Have you ever heard of “final-mile” or “last-mile” delivery? Did you know that companies that specialize in it can significantly reduce delivery times and cost?
Even just a decade ago, single- or same-day delivery was unheard of outside of local businesses. Now it is what consumers expect, and at a minimal cost.
How can final-mile delivery companies guarantee fast and reliable shipping without exorbitant costs? Here’s everything you need to know about how they work, and how they could help your business.
What Is Final-Mile Delivery?
Final-mile delivery is the movement of goods from a warehouse or transportation hub to an individual home or business. This is accomplished by a delivery vehicle, bike messenger, or foot courier. Companies that specialize in this service have grown in popularity. This is due to their efficiency and cost-saving advantages.
Moving goods from a warehouse to a specific address is the most painstaking, time-consuming, and expensive part of the delivery process. In fact, last-mile delivery can account for more than half of the total shipping cost.
Simply put, it is easy and economical to move parcels between locations where other packages are already traveling. Getting a single package to a particular place where nothing else is being delivered demands its own time and cost.
What Are the Challenges for Final-Mile Delivery?
The big challenge for last-mile delivery is simply the courier getting to a specific location. In rural areas, for instance, delivery stops may be far apart. In urban areas, while delivery routes may be shorter, couriers can be delayed by pedestrian or traffic congestion. But there are other challenges beyond logistics.
Growth of Online Ordering
The explosion of online ordering has impacted delivery times. During the COVID pandemic, online shopping and home delivery grew. But the shift from brick-and-mortar to primary online shopping has been happening across industries for some time now.
Businesses are using various avenues for selling goods. This including websites, social media, smartphone apps, and in-person shopping. Companies that use robust omnichannel retailing are edging out their competitors.
A network of communication drives business because it creates a unique buying experience for consumers. In fact, customers are more likely to spend money on products, even in a physical store, if they have engaged with the company online. In short, people like to interact with businesses, view and order products, and do it from the comfort of their own home.
Shifting Customer Expectations
It is easy to see how fast delivery is a huge aspect of this dynamic. Two-day, one-day, and even same-day delivery will continue to be a huge selling point for retailers.
Not only does quick delivery enhance customer satisfaction, but the opposite is true. With so many online alternatives, slow shipping can be the one thing that pushes customers to another business offering similar products. One study showed that more than half of all consumers would switch to a competitor if they offered faster delivery times, even if it was at a higher price.
Also, the variety of types of products available for home delivery continues to grow. Food shipment is ever-increasing. It is possible to order live animals, including fish, online. Many of these need special packaging and handling. Ensuring that they are delivered safely is of growing concern for businesses and the people who purchase these items.
It is easy to see how the sheer growth of online ordering and the customer expectation of efficiency have exacerbated existing inefficiencies in the final phase of delivery.
How Do Final Mile Delivery Companies Address These Challenges?
Last-mile delivery companies specialize in combining delivery speed with reliability. Their expertise helps optimize efficiency and thus save money. There are a few ways they manage to do this.
Meticulous route planning for delivery drivers is one advantage of final-mile delivery. Rather than dealing with large shipments of cargo, these companies focus on coordinating delivery logistics within a specific area. They use advanced technology to quickly dispatch delivery personnel on carefully orchestrated routes.
In many metropolitan areas, these companies have leveraged the growth of the gig economy. Crowdsourcing companies post delivery jobs online that are claimed by independent couriers. This helps keep costs down by eliminating the need for a fleet of vehicles.
Analytics and Communication
Final-mile delivery companies rely on analytics to improve their delivery times. These are used to assess deliveries and improve on problem areas, like bottlenecks in traffic during certain times. This technology allows final-mile companies can mitigate shifting challenges like traffic far beyond the capabilities of standard delivery systems.
Last-mile delivery companies also offer driver tracking and communication with customers. Unlike standard mail delivery, consumers can communicate directly with final-mile delivery personnel through text or an app. This can be useful for last-minute changes to delivery instructions or in assisting a delivery person who is trying to find an obscure location. Notifications and correspondence also have become important as food delivery has increased in popularity.
Final-mile delivery companies often provide specialty services, like bringing large packages into a particular room inside the home. Staying while the customer opens the package to ensure the contents are correct is another common service. These “little extras” can go a long way to improving customer satisfaction.
Final Thoughts on Final-Mile Delivery
Final-mile delivery companies can provide many advantages over traditional delivery networks. Efficiency and reliable delivery of products can make all the difference between customer satisfaction and loss of business.
In short, final-mile companies can help you get more bang for your buck. Being able to offer one- or same-day delivery can boost sales that would offset any increases in shipping costs that you incur.
If you think last-mile delivery can help give you an advantage over your competitors, take a look at the options available in your region. Most companies provide quotes through their website. A reputable last-mile company will be able to tell you what services and speeds they can guarantee, to keep your customers happy and your business growing.