People want their items, and they want them now. Consumers everywhere have become used to instantaneous responses. From instant messaging to fast food to same-day delivery, people just expect their items to show up at their doorstep. This has made it increasingly challenging for retailers, and competition has grown between the most popular online retailers. Most of the challenge comes in the final steps of delivery, known as last-mile delivery.
This is where the package leaves the transportation hub and travels to a doorstep or other company. Whether the package is headed to an urban hotspot or a farm miles away from civilization, the customer still expects it to arrive on time. Retailers want to make sure the parcel gets delivered while keeping costs low. This has become more difficult due to the instant delivery demand, but retailers have found ways to get the job done.
Here are six ways retailers are meeting last-mile delivery demand in a society that’s waiting in their windows to see the delivery van.
1. Offering Constant Communication
One practice customers appreciate most is continuous communication. From the moment they order their product until it arrives at the doorstep, they need communication about where their package is located. Over 80% of consumers wouldn’t purchase from the same company if they had a bad delivery experience.
Retailers have used SMS, email, and other means of communication to their advantage. Millions of people are on their phones throughout the day, so retailers seized the opportunity to constantly update their clients with the status of their deliveries. Streamlining communication allows customers to trust the retailer. Therefore, customers will continue to purchase from that company.
2. Partnering With Last-Mile Partners
In addition to communication with customers, retailers meet last-mile delivery demands by partnering with other last-mile companies. The United States Postal Service has been a top package delivery service for decades. What happens if they’re unavailable, though?
Retailers have partnered with more than one delivery service, ensuring the package gets to the customer on time. Investing in smaller carrier companies as backups to their primary delivery provider allows retailers and customers to have peace of mind through the delivery process.
3. Using Innovative Technology
The first time a retailer used autonomous delivery was when 7-Eleven successfully delivered an item via drone in 2015. Retailers have since turned to autonomous delivery models to get their products to their customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. Autonomous vehicles don’t require human drivers, so those humans can focus on packaging and researching better ways to deliver.
In addition to autonomous delivery, retailers have implemented tracking technology. This allows the consumer and company to track the package between destinations, and it helps mitigate lost or misplaced items. Customers love to watch where their order is throughout the delivery.
4. Getting Closer Distribution Sites
A great way to meet last-mile delivery demands is to get the product closer to the customer from the beginning. COVID-19 impacted delivery times, and packages took days or even weeks longer to get to the customer.
Instead of retailers waiting for the item to be delivered from a distribution center, they shipped items directly from brick-and-mortar stores. These stores are much closer to consumers, meaning the package gets delivered even sooner.
5. Planning Routes Before Delivery
Planning out routes makes the delivery more efficient. When a retailer takes time to look at all of the delivery sites carefully, they can better create a route that gets the product to the consumer faster.
The routes should account for traffic, construction, vehicle capacity, time, and location to make them the most cost- and time-efficient. Many map applications use location services that allow retailers to do this in little to no time, optimizing their efforts.
6. Allowing Same-Day Pickup
Same-day pickup allows consumers to get their items the same day they placed the order. Many food and department stores have implemented this practice in their stores. Customers still get the gratification of shopping and picking up on the same day, much like they would if they entered a store to go grocery shopping.
Customers love to shop from home now. It makes them feel safer, and they don’t have to spend hours in a store searching for all their items. Instead, they can create an online shopping list, and the retailer will send out an employee to gather the items. Later that day, the customer can get their order, and some stores even have employees put the bags into the consumer’s vehicle.
From the First Mile to the Last
Retailers must meet the demands of consumers from the moment they receive the order until it’s on the customer’s doorstep. These tips will allow retailers to make their last-mile delivery more efficient to stay on top of the competition.
Credit: Devin Partida is a retail writer and blogger. You can read more posts from Devin at ReHack.com, where she is the Editor-in-Chief.