E-commerce is fast growing and delivery plays a crucial role in the success of any online business.
The last mile, also known as the final phase of delivery, marks the point at which a product is delivered to its final consumer.
It’s a challenging and costly part, but also an opportunity for e-commerce companies to differentiate themselves from the competition.
In this article, we’ll explore what the last mile is, how it can be improved, and its importance for the success of your e-commerce business.
What is the last mile?
The last mile refers to the last stage in the delivery process of a product when it is delivered to the end customer.
This is the part of the journey that takes place from the distribution centre to the customer’s door.
It sounds simple, but it is one of the most challenging and costly parts of the entire delivery process.
At this stage, parcels need to be delivered quickly, accurately and efficiently.
It’s also the point where customers have their first physical contact with their online purchase, which can significantly influence their experience and satisfaction.
The complexity of the last mile
The last mile is complex for several reasons:
- Diversity of Destinations: Customers can be located in densely populated urban areas, remote rural areas or anywhere in between. Each location has its own characteristics that affect delivery, such as traffic, accessibility and weather conditions.
- Customer needs: Customers have increasingly higher expectations of delivery. They want flexible delivery times, real-time tracking, fast delivery options and easy returns.
- High costs: Last mile delivery tends to be expensive, due to factors such as the fuel, labour and vehicles required. Optimising this phase is essential to keep costs under control.
- Logistical problems: For e-commerce companies, it’s challenging to manage last mile logistics, especially when it comes to peak orders, such as the festive season.
- Environmental Impact: Last Mile delivery can have a major environmental impact due to the carbon emissions associated with delivery vehicles. Sustainability has become an important concern.
How to improve last-mile delivery
Improving last mile delivery is fundamental to the success of your e-commerce business. Here are some strategies that can help:
1. invest in tracking technology and fleet management
Investing in tracking and fleet management technology is one of the most effective strategies for improving last mile delivery. The use of advanced real-time tracking systems provides significant benefits for both customers and e-commerce companies.
Firstly, real-time tracking offers a valuable dose of transparency.
Customers can track the exact location of their parcel, allowing them to have an accurate delivery time estimate.
This reduces the anxiety and uncertainty associated with waiting for a delivery and increases customer confidence in your company.
In addition, real-time tracking allows customers to programme their availability more effectively.
By knowing when they can expect delivery, customers can organise their day accordingly, avoiding situations where they are not present to receive the order.
This results in fewer failed delivery attempts and, consequently, more successful deliveries.
On the other hand, fleet management systems play a key role in optimising delivery operations.
By analysing real-time traffic data and road conditions, these systems enable the selection of the most efficient routes.
This not only minimises travel time but also reduces operating costs, such as fuel and maintenance costs.
In short, combining real-time tracking technology and fleet management systems is a powerful strategy for improving last mile delivery.
It provides tangible benefits for both customers and companies, making deliveries more transparent, efficient and successful.
This point is essential if you make your own deliveries. It’s usually linked to a good choice of carrier.
Ensuring that the transporter provides real-time tracking helps a lot in managing deliveries on time.
2. Offer flexible delivery options
Offering flexible delivery options is a smart strategy for improving last mile delivery and gaining customer satisfaction.
As consumer expectations continue to evolve, the ability to adapt the delivery process to individual customer needs has become an important factor in e-commerce.
One of the delivery options most valued by customers is scheduled delivery.
This allows customers to choose the most convenient day and time to receive their parcel.
With increasingly busy schedules, this flexibility is much appreciated as it avoids the frustration of having to wait for a delivery at a specific time.
What’s more, evening delivery offers a convenient alternative for those who work during the day.
Customers can receive their orders after working hours, avoiding interruptions to their daily routine.
The option of delivery to pick-up points has also gained popularity.
This allows customers to choose a convenient location near their home or workplace to collect their orders.
This option eliminates the need to be at home to receive the delivery and is particularly useful for people who have irregular schedules.
Another flexible option is workplace delivery. Many customers prefer to receive their parcels directly at their place of work, making delivery more convenient and secure.
Offering flexible delivery options is a strategy that meets the various needs of customers and significantly improves the shopping experience.
The ability to choose the option that best suits their lifestyle makes customers more satisfied and increases the likelihood of successful deliveries, thus contributing to the success of your e-commerce business.
3. Partnerships with specialised logistics companies
Outsourcing last mile delivery to specialised logistics companies such as Ship4you is a smart and effective strategy for improving the efficiency and quality of your e-commerce deliveries.
These companies have extensive experience in the efficient management of last mile deliveries and offer several advantages for your business.
Firstly, specialised logistics companies have in-depth knowledge of the delivery process, from the storage and preparation of parcels to final delivery to the customer.
This means they have the necessary skills and resources to optimise each stage of the process, ensuring faster and more efficient deliveries.
In addition, these companies are up-to-date with the best practices and technological innovations in the sector. This means they can utilise advanced tracking and fleet management systems from their partners, as well as state-of-the-art solutions to ensure accurate and transparent delivery.
This not only improves the customer experience but also reduces errors and returns.
Another advantage is the flexibility that specialised logistics companies offer. They are able to adapt their services to the specific needs of your business, from scheduling deliveries to managing seasonal peaks.
This means you can count on a logistics partner that adjusts to the growth of your business and fluctuations in demand.
What’s more, outsourcing delivery allows you to concentrate on your core business, while specialised professionals take care of logistics. This saves time and resources, allowing you to devote yourself to developing your e-commerce and satisfying customers.
In short, partnering with fulfillment companies such as Ship4you is an effective strategy for improving last mile delivery.
With their experience, resources and flexibility, these companies can raise the quality of your deliveries, providing a superior customer experience and contributing to the success of your e-commerce business.
4. Use environmentally-friendly vehicles
Using environmentally friendly vehicles is one of the most effective ways of reducing the environmental impact of last mile delivery.
Electric vehicles and cargo bikes don’t emit greenhouse gases, which helps protect the environment.
They are also quieter than traditional vehicles, which can reduce noise pollution.
The running costs of an electric vehicle are significantly lower than those of a traditional vehicle.
Cargo bikes are also an economical option, as they require no fuel or maintenance.
If you want to invest in direct deliveries to customers, here are some tips for implementing the use of eco-friendly vehicles in last mile logistics
Assess your company’s needs to determine the most suitable type of eco-vehicle.
Budget for the costs of purchasing and operating the vehicle.
Train your drivers on how to operate the vehicle safely and efficiently.
Promote the use of eco-friendly vehicles to your customers.
Adopting eco-friendly vehicles is an important way of reducing the environmental impact of last mile delivery.
By making this change, companies can help protect the environment and create a more sustainable future.
Here are some examples of companies that are using green vehicles in last-mile logistics:
- Amazon: Amazon is investing in fleets of electric vehicles for its deliveries.
- Walmart: Walmart is trialling a fleet of cargo bikes for its urban deliveries.
- UPS: UPS is investing in electric and hybrid vehicles for its deliveries.
- CTT/CTT Expresso: CTT has invested in electric and alternative energy vehicles not only for the movement of goods but also for its last mile deliveries.
As more companies adopt eco-friendly vehicles, the last mile becomes more sustainable.
5. Establish partnerships with technology companies
Establishing partnerships with technology companies is a strategy that can revolutionise last mile delivery, making it more efficient, faster and more innovative.
Technological innovation is profoundly shaping the delivery industry, and companies like Uber Eats and Amazon are at the forefront of this transformation.
One of the most notable forms of delivery innovation is the use of drones.
These small unmanned aircraft have the ability to fly over hard-to-reach urban and rural areas, delivering parcels quickly and safely.
By partnering with companies that develop this technology, your e-commerce business can exploit drone delivery to reach remote locations or speed up deliveries in congested areas.
Another exciting trend is the use of autonomous robots for delivery.
These robots are designed to navigate the streets autonomously, delivering parcels directly to customers’ doors. This approach not only reduces operating costs but also improves convenience for customers, since deliveries can be made at flexible times, including during the night.
In addition, partnerships with technology companies can enable the implementation of advanced real-time tracking and communication systems.
This gives customers complete visibility of their parcels, from the moment they are dispatched to final delivery, increasing customer confidence and satisfaction.
However, it is important to note that implementing disruptive technologies such as drones and autonomous robots requires proper planning and regulation.
It is essential to comply with legal and safety regulations to ensure successful and safe deliveries.
Partnering with technology companies can open up exciting new possibilities in last mile delivery.
Exploring innovative technologies such as drones and autonomous robots can position your e-commerce business at the forefront of the industry, offering faster and more convenient deliveries to your customers.
6. Optimise storage close to the customer
Optimising storage close to the customer is an essential strategy for improving last mile delivery.
By strategically positioning your products in warehouses close to the areas where your main customers are located, you benefit from a number of significant advantages.
Firstly, reducing the distance to be travelled in the last mile is a crucial factor for efficient delivery.
When products are closer to their recipients, travelling time is drastically reduced, which translates into faster deliveries.
This is particularly valuable in densely populated urban areas, where traffic and delivery logistics can be challenging.
In addition, the proximity of storage to the customer allows for more effective stock management.
This means that you can respond quickly to peaks in demand, avoiding running out of products at critical times, such as the end of the year.
The ability to make products readily available to customers can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Optimising storage close to the customer can also help reduce operating costs.
Less travelling time and more efficient stock management result in significant savings, not only in terms of transport costs but also storage costs.
In addition, returns management becomes more effective when products are closer to customers.
When customers need to return an item, they can do so more easily and reverse logistics becomes less expensive.
In short, optimising storage close to the customer is a smart strategy for improving last mile delivery.
It provides faster deliveries, reduces operating costs and enables effective stock management.
By positioning your products strategically, you can offer a faster and more efficient delivery service to your customers, increasing your competitiveness in the e-commerce market.
The importance of the last mile for your e-commerce success
Last mile delivery plays a key role in the success of your e-commerce business. Here are a few reasons why it’s so important:
1. Customer satisfaction
Last mile delivery is the point where customers have direct contact with your product.
If delivery is fast, accurate and convenient, customers will be satisfied and more likely to shop again.
On the other hand, if delivery is problematic, this can result in negative reviews and the loss of customers.
2. Customer loyalty
Satisfied customers tend to be more loyal.
If you offer an excellent last mile delivery experience, customers will certainly choose your online shop over the competition.
3. Cost reduction
Optimising last mile delivery can help reduce operating costs.
More efficient routes and the use of environmentally friendly vehicles can save money in the long run.
In the world of e-commerce, fast and efficient delivery has become a differentiating factor.
If your business can’t keep up with the competition when it comes to delivery, you could lose customers to companies that do.
5. Environmental impact
Consumers are increasingly considering the environmental impact of their purchases.
By adopting more sustainable delivery practices, you can attract customers who are concerned about the environment and demonstrate corporate social responsibility.
The last mile of e-commerce delivery is a very important part of the process that should not be overlooked.
It’s where customers get their last impression of your company and your product.
To improve last mile delivery, it’s essential to invest in technology, offer flexible options, explore partnerships and consider environmental sustainability.
The importance of the last mile for the success of your e-commerce cannot be underestimated.
Satisfied customers, loyalty, cost savings, competitiveness and environmental responsibility are just some of the benefits that can be achieved by optimising this crucial delivery stage.
So don’t underestimate the power of the last mile for the success of your online business.