Parcel delivery is a huge, competitive industry. The total number of parcels distributed around the world each year is 9.84 billion. Finding the best final mile delivery provider to give you a competitive advantage is tough.
Getting final mile delivery can help streamline your business process. Considering this service? Check out these questions to ask your final mile provider.
What is Final Mile Delivery?
Final mile delivery is a specialized aspect of logistics. It involves the shipping of goods from a distribution hub to their final destination. Very often, the final destination is somebody’s home or an office.
The last mile might not be literally a distance of a mile. It might be more. The key is that it is the final part of the package’s journey.
Sometimes a package will have been carried by multiple delivery services. It may have been picked up from source and taken to a hub at which it is consolidated with other packages. It is then delivered to another hub from which the last mile delivery specialist takes it on to the customer.
The phenomenon of last-mile delivery has arisen since on-line and bricks and mortar retailers have partnered with logistics specialists to provide home delivery. E-commerce requires home delivery because these retailers don’t have stores where customers can go to pick up goods. Conventional retailers have responded to e-commerce competition by adopting omnichannel approaches including home delivery.
In this competitive market, the quality of all aspects of service delivery is one of the ways customers discriminate between retailers. A great fulfillment operation can be the difference between success and failure. Customers have stopped making any distinction between channels and instead are interested in great customer experience.
Who is the best final mile carrier for your customers? Here are some questions you should ask?
1. Are You Financially Sound?
It seems like everybody can set themselves up as a final mile delivery provider. You just need a van.
If it’s easy to set up a final mile delivery service of sorts, it’s easy for it to go out of business too. This leaves you and your customers high and dry.
You should ask for reassurance about the financial resilience of the company. Do they have a track record and what capability do they have to take on your business without over-reaching themselves in the future?
2. What Resources Do You Have?
A key capability you need from a final mile carrier is their capacity to handle demand changes. Can they flex up and down as demand changes? One way of understanding this capacity is to learn about what resources they have.
Resources might include vehicles, distribution centers, and people. Customers value the speed of delivery. Your chosen final mile delivery provider has to be able to meet their expectations at all times.
3. What Makes You Great at Home Delivery?
There are some unique aspects to final mile delivery that are not necessarily part of the skill set of other carriers. What sets your prospective carrier apart from the rest.
One phenomenon that has developed alongside home delivery is expedited delivery. Being quicker than standard delivery is an added value. Can your prospective carrier provide this?
The unique aspect of final mile carriers is that they meet your customers. That personal contact may be the only human contact the customer receives along the whole customer service journey. How equipped are they to meet or exceed the expectations of your customers?
Contact with customers might be in their homes. Your customers may expect more than a simple delivery drop. Interpersonal skills, courtesy, and respect for someone’s home are all needed.
4. What Visibility Can You Give Me?
Your customers may want to know where their package is at any time. “When will it arrive?”, is a common question. Ask what visibility of the package journey will the carrier be able to give you on the final leg of its journey.
Home delivery has a greater demand for visibility than other deliveries. Customers are not necessarily available at all times to receive a delivery. There’s an element of coordination needed to meet their needs.
Tracking of deliveries, as well as estimated delivery times, helps you and your customer. It’s also important to know if a parcel has been delivered. Your visibility of this helps resolve customer disputes, performance measurement, and supplier management.
5. How Do You Use Technology?
It’s one thing to provide visibility of the parcel journey. It’s another to make use of the information to drive performance improvement. Ask how the carrier uses technology to add value.
Integration with traffic information, routing applications, and demand forecasting are among the ways in which a technology-enabled carrier can reduce costs and improve their service.
6. What Customer Service Do You Provide?
A final mile delivery provider must take responsibility for the quality of the customer service they provide. Some poorer providers do no more than pick up and drop a parcel. The best ones recognize they deliver your brand as well as the parcel.
Your customer may regard the carrier as the first line of your customer service. How will your carrier respond to the questions and concerns raised by your customer?
Can the final mile delivery provider provide some added services? Furniture deliveries may need unpacking and packaging removing. A new washing machine delivery may mean there’s an old washing machine to remove.
Added value service such as delivery into the customer’s home, unpacking, assembly and removing old goods can make all the difference to your customers. Poor service here can undo all your good marketing, buying, and logistics. It can also be expensive in terms of customer complaints, online reviews, and poor reputation.
7. Is Your Business Sustainable?
Logistics is an important aspect of your business’s impact on the environment. You may have made commitments to your stakeholders about your environmental performance and your customers almost certainly have expectations too.
A final mile carrier is part of your supply chain and so you may want to understand their environmental credentials. How are they working to reduce their carbon footprint? What are they doing about controlling waste, energy use, and improving sustainability?
It’s important to ask these questions of a prospective carrier. Don’t expect that all carriers will be equally capable. The right final mile delivery partner might be your competitive advantage.
To learn more about last-mile transportation, click here.