Empowered by smartphones, the explosion of services has led to an intense amount of focus being placed on the so-called ‘last mile’ in the supply chain – or final delivery in the supply chain.

While the focus may be on the last mile of the supply chain, problems earlier in the process can make this newfound emphasis all for naught.

Typically, new ‘last mile’ models are built around meeting various needs for customers. ‘Click and collect’ models allow customers to browse and purchase items on the Internet, then pick up their haul at a brick-and-mortar location. Amazon has also been testing a last mile service, with the promise of someday featuring delivery by drone.

Instead of ignoring these services and their effect on the supply chain, suppliers need to tweak their models accordingly and factor the changes into their routine.

Network design

Having a proper final delivery starts with having an efficient supply network. Both retail merchants and direct-to-consumer models must make decisions on whether or not they will use the traditional distribution-fulfillment centers model, and how much area each facility should service. Ultimately, these kinds of network decisions will influence where inventory will be kept.

Often, supply chain managers will want to use a comprehensive approach, comprising tactical solutions that tackle the last mile, together with the proper focus on order fulfillment guidelines, compliance materials and streamlined operations further upstream in the chain.

Using automation for shipping rules and content

Modern supply networks have guidelines and mandatory shipping content that drives the success of a final delivery.

To follow these guidelines, organizations are often turning to automated order management systems that facilitate e-commerce fulfillment. Such a system would be able to, for example, follow guidelines on things like label placement or determine the best way to ship a load.

The efficiency and ultimate success of these systems is predicated on properly entering rules into the system on the front end.

Choosing a delivery system

The success of the ‘last mile’ also depends on the route optimization of a delivery system.

In one such system, batch-oriented route optimization allows users to continually drop in new orders and have the software optimize the best route in terms of quickest delivery time or the most cost-effective.

Combining multiple steps

Ensuring the success of the last mile also means maximizing efficiency. Many companies are optimizing their operations through streamlining processes or using technology to combine multiple steps into one.

For example, some picking-and-packing solutions allow for a user to scan a container, confirm the container has the proper weight and print out a shipping label with directions on labeling guidelines. This type of solution allows warehouse employees to become much more efficient and meet shorter deadlines.

Streamlining and multitasking bolsters the supply network, and if the ever-expanding plethora of last mile methods continues, a strong network is the best way to support those applications.

At ZDA, we understand that changing times calls for flexible staffing solutions. If your organization is looking to acquire talent to help adjust its strategy, contact us today to work with top supply chain recruiters.