Retailers of big and bulky retail products like furniture well understand the fragile balance of delivering on customer experience and managing costs. And right-fit last mile technology can solve these problems in tandem.
In fact, a recent white paper from FIDELITONE, Last Mile Delivery for Furniture Retailers: Obstacles & Opportunities, reports that 90% of furniture retailers rate their technology systems as needing improvement. “The top-rated target for technology investment is customer service to improve real-time communications with customers and offer greater visibility into the delivery process,” according to study findings from Furniture Today Strategic Insights.
Customer Experience is a Double Win
Putting customers in control of their last mile delivery experience is a double win. Here’s why: Automated communications speed up delivery scheduling while of course reducing labor. But they also reduce the number of costly failed deliveries due to end customers not being home, which can double the costs of this last leg. The customer is in control of the date and time set – and automated updates, such as text messages, provide full transparency to the customer about delivery time.
In addition, technology that provides proof of delivery (e.g., photos) reduces liability claims, again saving costs for the retailer. Most importantly, the customer who has a technology-enabled experience has a stellar experience because customers appreciate real-time communications. Loyalty translates into sustainable, long-term profits. Learn more about delivery self-scheduling and tracking.
Technology Optimizes Last Mile Delivery
Technology that improves the end-to-end last mile delivery process can save costs and improve customer loyalty every step of the way. “Last-mile logistics is the least efficient stage in the supply chain, making up 28 percent of the total delivery cost,” according to Deloitte. Thus, it’s good business to whittle down those costs. Here are more ways an integrated last mile delivery technology solution can reduce costs:
- Providing route optimization for last mile delivery teams, which saves time and fuel as well as maximizing truck capacity
- Reducing the turnaround time on delivery processing by integrating warehouse management systems, which allows a company to increase capacity with fewer resources
- Providing full visibility each step of the way for greater accuracy and efficiency in managing the supply chain
- Efficiency in managing and reducing returns or replacements, with a concurrent increase in first-time delivery success rates
- Utilizing warehouse management systems as well as routing and scheduling expertise to process large amounts of data with intelligent efficiency, reducing labor costs
- Real-time inventory visibility enables you to aggregate information to inform smart business decisions in the never-ending quest to optimize last mile delivery processes.
In-House, Off-the-Shelf, or Partner?
While retailers agree that technology drives sustainable value, adopting last mile technology calls for big decisions. Should you develop custom solutions in house? Or opt for an off-the-shelf solution? Costs of these options can be prohibitive. While they can be highly customized to your specific needs, in-house systems tend to lack economies of scale, with long development windows and momentous investments.
At first glance, off-the-shelf can hold promise. However, it is easy to underestimate the costs involved. There is never a one-size-fits-all, so specifying customizations can be cumbersome. Additionally, customizations are usually only provided by the vendor if many of their clients are requesting the same features.
For truly customized solutions, there is the need to allocate staffing for configuration, training, data set-up, and implementation. This can be a long and expensive window. There are typically a few surprises along the way as you find something doesn’t do quite what you’d hoped it would. Add to that ongoing system management costs (staffing) plus ongoing licensing, and this option can grey in its appeal.
A third option is to hand over the technology imperative to a qualified last mile delivery partner, one who has already made the investment in robust leading-edge technologies. Using a partner with strong onboarding and integration teams can help companies standardize and connect data points between their network of last mile carriers together to make informed decisions.
A last mile partner who takes the time to on-board your operations and who serves many clients can configure and rev-up technology quickly and efficiently. You save money in implementation. You also get the flexibility of a direct working relationship with the vendor, allowing for faster customizations if necessary. And every week that you’re leveraging well-oiled technology sooner represents cost-savings as well.
Budgeting for the New Year?
If you are budgeting for adoption of last mile technology solutions to optimize your business, consider your pain points, your opportunities, and your vision for an efficient operation that maximizes your resources. Want to know more? Talk with an expert at FIDELITONE to understand what a last mile partner can do for your bottom line. Contact FIDELITONE online or call 800.475.0917.