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The last mile is the most costly and time-consuming part of the shipping process, thanks to high-quantity package drop-offs and low-quantity volumes.
In urban environments delivery drivers have to fight traffic, look for drop-off spots or parking places, and often walk up flights of stairs or wait on an elevator — all of this adds to delays in delivery, and leads to even worse inefficiencies.
On top of the inefficiencies in the last mile, consumers are used to receiving their orders for free, on the next day or same day. It is essential for businesses which offer last-mile deliveries to utilize technology to reduce inefficiencies and lower costs. These technologies include traceability and tracking information, route planning solutions, GPS and/or telematics devices, order management systems and payment processing. Traceability and tracking are important, especially if a package is delayed or lost. GPS and telematics tell management where trucks are located at all times.
Route planning designs the best routes for deliveries, so customer service requirements are met, and fuel and mileage are optimized. A tight, two-hour delivery window is now a must for businesses like bakeries, grocery stores and restaurants, enabling rapid delivery of the freshest products to customers. Order management systems capture customer delivery appointments and bill customers for delivery costs.
The speed and efficiency of the delivery process depends on a number of factors, which include:
Crowdsourced delivery models, which more companies are adopting, can cut costs and improve customer experiences.
There’s no need to hire a delivery team with these Uber-like resources; drivers use their own vehicles and pick-up and deliver on their own time. Online orders are delivered to customers faster while consumers can schedule their orders to arrive when they want it to. The crowdsourced model offers low start-up costs, asset-light operations, lower operating costs and improved customer experiences.
Drivers download an app and begin receiving delivery offers. Retailers, grocers and consumers use an e-commerce app that connects to the delivery app and allows people to schedule their delivery at a time they will be home or to a location they prefer. Most of these apps incorporate real-time visibility, enable track and trace, and offer route optimization, documentation and signature capture for proof of delivery.
With the continued growth of e-commerce orders and shoppers wanting more and more convenience, crowdsourced delivery models offering last-mile deliveries will continue to grow with added features.
Urban, pop-up warehouses will bring products closer to the end-customer for even faster and lower cost last-mile deliveries. In the near future, robots and drones will be added to the mix of delivery assets available to bring orders to consumers’ homes.
Vijaya Rao is CEO of Delivery Circle.
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