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Last Mile Logistics Problems and How to Solve Them Once and For All

Last Mile furniture

Just how important are last mile logistics to your customers’ overall experience?

In two words: promise kept.

The last mile service—a term used in supply chain management to refer to the activities surrounding the last leg of the supply chain, or final destination—is gaining greater visibility within an organization, beyond the supply chain team. Delivery service and the in-home experience are increasingly viewed as part of the marketing strategy focused on building brand loyalty and competitive advantage.

Whether you’re considering adding last mile delivery services or are already providing them to your customers, you’ll want to make sure your last mile strategy addresses potential challenges as you manage this crucial part of the journey.

Let’s dive into the most common last mile logistics problems and our solutions to address them head on:

DAMAGES AND RETURNS

  • Problem: Delays in delivery    

One of two scenarios takes place: A customer receives the product in a damaged state or the transit time is delayed in order to avoid delivering a damaged product to a customer. 

Delays can create frustration, annoyance or anger with customers. If it’s a high-ticket item, your customers’ expectations for a no-nonsense delivery are probably quite high.

  • Solution: Pre-delivery inspection

Comprehensive “white glove” service, such as the kind FIDELITONE offers, can help eliminate or decrease the amount of damages, because it includes a pre-delivery inspection.

The pre-delivery inspection process identifies damages that can be rectified or repaired by in-house technicians before the product is shipped. Aesthetic imperfections are repaired back to factory-level quality.

  • Problem: Returned merchandise 

The product is delivered but the customer doesn’t like it; now the shipper has to credit the customer and get the product back into inventory. Best case scenario? No damage. Perhaps the item wasn’t what they expected, or the color or dimensions were off. Regardless, the customer doesn’t want a bad return experience, and you don’t want an unrecoverable loss.

  • Solution: Re-box the return

FIDELITONE can re-box the return and manage the inventory so that the "refused package" gets right back into inventory. It’s not hard to imagine how this can turn into a nightmare for some shippers, especially if the product is damaged.

CUSTOMER DELIVERY VISIBILITY AND PREDICTABILITY

  • Problem: Delivery uncertainty

Without visibility—that is, the ability to see if and when a delivery has been scheduled and where it is in the delivery process—you could be dealing with more calls to and from unhappy customers, not to mention unwanted scheduling issues.

  • Solution: Visibility and technology

With investments in technology and people, a partner like FIDELITONE makes the entire process viewable, transparent and visible. All actions are clear and two-hour delivery windows can be achieved.

  • Problem: Mis-shipment of package

When a delivery time is unpredictable, the customer may not be home when the delivery is attempted. A mis-shipment can cause delayed transit time and additional costs. Since deliveries are typically made inside the home, goods have to be returned and deliveries rescheduled. This means a return trip to the home and a second delivery window.

  • Solution: Technology & scheduling tools

Technology and scheduling play vital roles in this scenario. What is your standard delivery window and your service performance percentage? Set expectations early:

  • Call your customer when the product arrives at the facility to schedule a day for delivery
  • Call your customer the day before release to confirm a two-hour window delivery.
  • Call your customer 30 minutes prior to delivery. You can also use pre-delivery email or text alerts to communicate that you’re on top of the process, and you respect your customer’s time.

INCONSISTENT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

  • Problem: Misaligned experiences

Different experiences at the point of sale versus the point of delivery can deteriorate brand value and jeopardize repeat purchases.

A consistent experience across all channels and touch points helps customers recognize and bond with your brand, no matter how (or where) they interact with you.

  • Solution: Offer consistent and quality service levels

Multiple levels of last mile delivery services (including white glove) maintain your brand value through the entire purchase cycle. 

Last mile service levels include:

  • Threshold:  Leaving an item at the doorstep. This is typically used with cabinet, window or door deliveries to a home as part of a remodeling project.
  • Room of choice:  The next level of service, includes moving the merchandise to the final destination of use. This is commonly used with mattress deliveries and typically includes unpacking, removing any debris from packaging materials and perhaps repackaging and reclamation of the old mattress. Service upgrades include bed frame or foundation assembly. 
  • White glove:  The highest level of service. This covers product preparation, delivery and assembly. This may vary by product type and includes business to consumer or business to business deliveries (e.g., furniture that requires in-home setup or office equipment that requires installation).

white glove

COMPLICATED AND COSTLY

  • Problem: Centralized model of distribution 

Shipping individual orders from a centralized distribution center directly to geographically dispersed customers requires a large carrier network, which can be complicated to manage—as well as quite costly.

  • Solution: Warehousing efficiency

Consider working with a regional service provider who can reduce the number of carriers you’ll need while increasing the service areas of each carrier.

The other aspect is warehousing. With last mile delivery services, your warehouse solution is a critical component of customer satisfaction. 

A couple of scenarios to consider:

  • Operating from a strategically located warehouse, the commingled hub model works for companies that need to expand both warehousing and delivery options while also providing a high touch, high feel delivery experience. This multi-client service enables you to outsource both warehouse and delivery services. 
  • Operating from your warehouse, a dedicated solution enables you to outsource the delivery portion, while retaining product on site. It also offers additional options to choose from, such as last mile delivery employees and technology. Adding technology onsite is beneficial to manage orders and provide activity visibility, delivery route optimization and inventory management. You can customize the solutions based upon your needs and resources.

More organizations are recognizing that last mile logistics provide an important opportunity to ensure continuity of the customer experience and reinforce the brand’s promise.

No matter the service level you choose, remember these following tips:

  • Determine which model works best for your business and clients
  • Align the delivery service level with your brand experience at point of sales
  • Establish transparent and clear expectations and communication
  • Utilize technology for product tracking, real-time communication and notification of delivery
  • Measure feedback with post-delivery surveying to close the loop and relay back the results of your customer experience

What last mile logistics problems have you encountered in your supply chain management process?  

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