More carriers and logistics providers have entered the final mile logistics space to help companies meet customer expectations. According to Transport Topics, the area of white-glove services, focusing on products that require delivery and set up in the home of vast or intricate products, is rapidly becoming central to effective final mile strategies. In fact, a 2018 study found that the prevalence of customers’ purchasing furniture online rose by 24% to 57% since 2012. Those buying large appliances increased online purchases even faster in the same time frame, rising 28%.
Unfortunately, the management of uncomplicated deliveries, in-home setup, removal of old appliances, changing the delivery location to include third-party areas and other factors contributed to a significant change in supply chain complexity. Now, shippers must consider different carriers, new servicers, and even after-delivery set up in the planning. However, using a practical final mile and TMS function can solve the challenges and meet demands.
Problems Resulting From Using Multiple Systems to Manage Different OTR Modes
The rising complexity of supply chain management led many carriers and shippers to invest in both internal and external systems. Now, using multiple systems can improve efficiency, but it also opens the door to risk, primarily when the systems are used to manage different over-the-road (OTR) modes. An argument can be made that the final mile is the most critical aspect of logistics. Unfortunately, using multiple systems also leads to the development and risk of these significant problems:
- Loss of data integrity.
- Possible inaccurate order detail entry.
- Delays in securing available capacity.
- Risk of missed or failed deliveries.
- Inability to see beyond the “out for delivery” status.
Using a TMS to Execute a Final Mile Strategy that Yields Desired Outcomes
Combined Final Mile and TMS Platforms Secure End-to-End Management
Collaboration throughout the supply chain, including both LTL and final mile carriers, will become a necessity. Even Amazon has taken the streets by storm with new final mile processes, eliminating its contract with FedEx in favor of white-label, smaller final mile delivery vehicles (think of the proliferation of those Grey Mercedes delivery vans with the seemingly ever-present Amazon smile log on the side). This move increases the sustainability of Amazon’s supply chain network, and as the company grows, an expanding delivery and pickup architecture, such as Amazon Lockers, will allow for more final mile delivery options for customers. The only way to handle both residential delivery and delivery to third-party pickup locations lies within using a single portal to manage the process from initial booking via an LTL carrier through final mile, regardless of where that mile ends.
Additional Benefits of Using a Single Portal for LTL Through Final Mile
Some key benefits of using a single, centralized portal for the final mile and TMS capability include:
- Faster delivery that follows the seamless hand-off of information between carriers and ensures all carrier rates are analyzed before selection.
- Visibility across all modes and routes, reducing the constraints of a limited “out for delivery” status and ensuring customers know when to expect their shipment.
- Improved planning for deconsolidation from LTL to final mile vehicles, further increasing delivery planning and ensuring all products, which may be contained within multiple boxes for larger items, are delivered on time.
- Immediate cost forecasting of shipping, giving customers the option to pay for additional services and custom delivery at the time of ordering.
- More informed delivery for consumers and shippers alike, reducing complaints and increasing the frequency of repeat purchases, as well as building brand value.
- Streamlined accounting processes to reduce risk of overbilling, helping companies maintain control over freight spend and lower product price points.
- Ability to determine market updates and rates in real-time, eliminating uncertainty when making load-planning or scheduling decisions, and evaluating new moves, such as the placement of a fulfillment center closer to consumers.
- Less cybersecurity risk since fewer systems amounts to stronger encryption protocols and the developer’s added value in creating stringent firewalls and conducting regular penetration tests to identify and correct any risks.
Align Your Shipping Strategy With the Right TMS Now
An effective shipping strategy must focus on two fundamentals, a dedicated final mile and TMS that combines all shipment processes into a single portal. Access to more information within the same system saves click-time by giving shippers a one-stop means of managing end-to-end logistics. A dedicated TMS can complete LTL tenders for the first leg, send products to a fulfillment center for the second leg and still get products to the customers via a third and final mile leg. Any variation is possible, and the TMS must be able to handle them all.