In the growing e-commerce landscape, last mile delivery has moved into the mainstream. Customers expect to get their packages fast, and free delivery has become the standard, not the exception. As a result, the last mile serves as the make-or-break variable for many businesses striving to meet customer expectations.
As customer expectations rise, more companies are looking for innovative last mile delivery solutions to get packages to customers quickly and safely.
What Is Last Mile Delivery?
Last mile delivery is the final leg of the delivery process, where goods move from distribution centers to the end consumer. It’s become increasingly important as e-commerce gains more market share year over year. Many consumers have come to expect delivery to be fast and free, making last mile delivery a critical part of the overall customer experience. A positive delivery experience can build customer loyalty, but a bad experience could lose a customer forever.
It’s worth noting that last mile delivery is expensive, comprising approximately 53% of the overall shipping cost. Traditionally, companies end up paying 25% of that cost, and this amount will only increase as supply chain inefficiencies become more expensive.
What makes last mile delivery so expensive in the first place? In a word, transportation. Transport vehicles cost money, from the people driving them to the fuel powering them, and maintenance costs add up. When it comes to the routes themselves, multi-stop route planning and rescheduled and failed deliveries accrue costs. And downtime between destinations certainly doesn’t help.
But despite the associated costs, last mile delivery is not the place to cut corners. The challenge lies in overcoming the most common obstacles to create a more efficient and cost-effective delivery process that benefits your business and your customers.
The Challenges of Last Mile Delivery
We’ve already established that last mile delivery isn’t always easy. Beyond the high costs, traffic and congestion in certain areas — especially in and around major cities — can slow down delivery times, costing you more money and time and leading to customer dissatisfaction.
A customer’s location can play a big role in delivery times. While metropolitan locations may have more traffic congestion, rural areas have extended delivery times due to longer distances or insufficient internal infrastructures. Companies must find ways to balance practical delivery times with customer expectations for speedy deliveries.
Recognizing these challenges is one thing. Overcoming them is something else entirely. As e-commerce increases, so do the related problems. More and more packages are being delivered each day, and customers continue to raise their expectations. In today’s economy, free delivery has become table stakes, with many customers abandoning purchases that require delivery fees.
The Last Mile Delivery Process: An Overview
Last mile delivery drives the flow of goods to consumers. Without efficient last mile processes, customers will be disappointed, and corporate reputations will take a hit. This leg of the delivery process takes careful planning to keep supply chains flowing and consumers happy. The process typically looks like this:
1) Orders are entered into centralized system.
Customers place orders either online or in-store. Orders, key customer information, and delivery details are recorded and processed in a centralized system.
2) Orders arrive at a transportation hub and await delivery.
Once the orders are processed, the purchased items are sent to a transportation hub or distribution center, where they’re organized and prepared for delivery. Items with similar routes are grouped together for efficiency.
3) Orders are loaded onto delivery vehicles.
Orders are placed on delivery vehicles based on their routes. The loading process involves carefully organizing each order to make them easily accessible during delivery. Advanced logistics software can be used to plan the most efficient delivery routes by considering traffic, weather conditions, and delivery time frames.
4) Proof of delivery is obtained
Delivery drivers take orders to their destinations, which can be residential or business locations. Once the delivery has been completed, the driver must obtain proof of delivery, which often takes the form of a recipient’s signature. Some systems even track the time and location of delivery for an additional layer of proof. If the recipient is unavailable, the driver may leave the package in a secure location.
While this process may sound simple, it requires proper transportation, storage space, and coordination to run smoothly. A trusted logistics partner can give you all the necessary resources to perform successful last mile deliveries.
The UCW Difference
At UCW Logistics, we offer multiple shipping options to ensure your freight gets delivered at the right time and place. We utilize truckload and less-than-truckload solutions to coordinate the transportation of orders of any size. We also offer expedited shipping so our clients can get their products to customers no matter how tight the timelines.
Our goal is to help you provide customers with top-notch delivery services. Your success depends on your ability to please customers, and our team of logistics experts is ready to help you do just that by providing reliable, efficient, cost-effective last mile delivery.