Delivery of large, heavy or bulky items is one of the major trends that the pandemic has brought to last-mile delivery, says Shailu Satish, co-founder of DispatchTrack.
As consumers have become more comfortable with e-commerce in recent years, sales of such large items as furniture, beds and appliances — things they traditionally would only buy in a store — have been soaring online. As potential customers browsed their sites, retailers had to reinvent themselves and figure out how to fulfill those orders, Satish says. “And that means that sometimes, companies that were originally structured to only service locally and regionally are now having to think about how to fulfill orders nationally, either by expanding their own fleet or plugging into national 3PL networks.”
Some interesting and highly unusual buying patterns resulted. For instance, a customer who moved from one state to another might choose to order from a favorite store back home. Retailers have been able to fulfill that order, keep the customer loyal by plugging into national networks.
Artificial intelligence is a major trend in logistics, Satish says. “Much as football is a game of inches, logistics is a game of minutes, and AI is a quarterback consuming a lot of data, looking at patterns and predicting outcomes. The only way you can get accurate delivery times and do it fast is when you have AI-based technology able to use factors like traffic patterns and service times and service type.”
With so many factors impacting delivery, Satish says, by using the right algorithms, retailers can shave minutes from deliveries and still be accurate. “Speed and accuracy of delivery are absolutely going to determine winners and losers. And the only way to win in this game is to be backed up by AI-based technologies.”
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