Customers don’t see many aspects of the supply chain. They don’t see suppliers sending raw materials to a manufacturer, products rolling off the lines or shipments headed off to distribution centers.
However, customers do see the final link or ‘last mile’ of the supply chain. They want final deliveries to be on time and their order to be in perfect condition when it arrives. It’s this heightened visibility that has supply chain managers placing a heavy emphasis on the ‘last mile.’
Specific challenges and third-party solutions
Just like quality control or brand identity, a company’s delivery network is part of its value proposition to retailers and their consumers. As such, companies need to invest significant resources in building up their network.
Some companies chose to outsource the last mile to a third-party provider. This is because the last mile often involves particular characteristics and obstacles that make it uniquely challenging. For example, some deliveries might require navigating narrow streets with a tractor trailer or offloading a shipment to a different mode of transportation.
Using a third-party solution also often means adding a range of delivery options, assets and cost efficiencies a company did not have access to previously. Conversely, a company leveraging a third-party solution doesn’t have underutilized assets when volumes fluctuate.
Communication is key
Another factor that plays a major role in the success of the last mile is communication. Communication is most vital when deliveries don’t go according to plan. When a shipment is delayed, customers want to know its status and when they can expect it to arrive.
Many companies are turning to automation to ensure that retailers or customers are kept apprised of a delivery status, even for the last mile. Anyone who has tracked their USPS or FedEx parcel is familiar with the types of scan-based automation tools customers have come to expect. But with a last mile solution, the shipment is tracked all the way from the local facility to the final destination. A delivery window is typically set up from the local facility and a driver will often call the destination in advance.
Even after a shipment is delivered, many companies follow up with an automated phone call that asks customers about their shipping experience.
Giving customers last mile options
Customers have varying needs and it’s important that the last mile needs those needs.
Many companies also leverage third-party solutions in case a unique delivery situation arises. For example, consumers often want premium or expensive goods brought to their door rather than having them left at their doorstep. Hence, shippers need to think about how their product is perceived based on how it arrives.
A local third-party company is uniquely positioned to know what area customers want in a last mile delivery service and lay out the appropriate suite of options.
At ZDA, we understand that the complexity and high stakes of last mile delivery may call for a customized staffing solution. If your company needs a solution for supply chain employment, contact us today!