The state of last-mile logistics is in flux, with new vendors popping up in each corner of the market offering delivery solutions for a wide variety of locations, fees, time windows and services options.
Consumers who are used to quick deliveries have created this demand for all businesses to offer this type of fulfillment. Businesses have been investigating potential delivery partners and supply chain models all in an effort to improve customer satisfaction and experience.
As more and more people shop online, the rise in the number of shipments has increased exponentially — and the trend does not seem to be slowing. One of their biggest expenses and challenges for businesses today is same-day, last-mile shipping. According to Frost & Sullivan, about two-fifths of overall logistics costs are associated with the last mile, forcing providers to come up with newer innovative solutions to deliver packages. Businesses that deliver products in rural areas know that delivery drops are often miles apart, while inner-city deliveries can be in the same building or general area, but these deliveries face challenges of traffic congestion and gridlock. Focus has been placed on last-mile deliveries because it can be a key differentiator and give businesses a competitive edge.
Companies are turning to the crowdsourcing model of last-mile delivery to keep the costs down by connecting businesses to non-professional couriers who can deliver goods instantly. Establishing your own local delivery program nationwide is monumental if a business does it on their own. Creating your own delivery team is even more costly, making it prohibitively expensive for most companies, especially once you factor in recruiting, vetting, hiring, training and insuring drivers; providing and maintaining vehicles; and creating dispatch, tracking and other operational systems.
Using crowd-sourced drivers and efficient delivery tech platforms, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar businesses alike can deliver an outstanding customer experience without incurring the risk or expense of hiring staff, building a proprietary program or paying the price of using national carriers. Working with a vendor that offers a crowdsourced model, similar to Uber, eliminates the need to recruit drivers yourself. Using a software app, you can choose the driver for your package based on availability and vehicle type, then schedule your pick-up and delivery, and make a payment. By focusing on last-mile deliveries, businesses are able to provide and guarantee exceptional service levels to their customers and adapt to the constantly changing omnichannel retail environment.
Platforms are available that allow national and local companies to roll out new customer delivery options, such as ASAP, same-day, next-day, scheduled, two-man or other customized programs. Regardless of your industry sector, you can utilize one of these platforms to centralize the management of local delivery resources and activities, helping to streamline courier operations, control spend, and provide real-time visibility. Carriers can have access to technology to help self-manage cost and quality goals with minimal effort.
In the next 10 years, a new ecosystem for deliveries will be created that expands the amount and type of goods and services to be delivered even faster, from same day to same hour, for products from groceries to building materials, airplanes, asphalt and more. Warehouses will move to the city for quicker distribution; more and more brick-and-mortar stores will do fulfillment rather than sell inventory; and deliveries will leave stores to go to consumer homes in a matter of minutes.
Vijaya Rao is CEO of DeliveryCircle.
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