10 Primary Challenges in Managing Final Mile Distribution

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When delivering goods, trust between shipper, customer, and driver is crucial. In order to keep the trust of everyone involved, the final mile distribution must be on point. If not, there may be consequences, including lost customers and even the potential for legal action. Plenty of logistics challenges may arise, and shippers need to know the top 10 to begin the path to an enlightened, better final mile distribution process. 

1. Collaboration With Carriers to Secure Available Capacity

If there’s one thing that both carriers and shippers face, it is the tight capacity. Oftentimes, shippers will assume the role of carriers in order to create a more efficient delivery, which ends up worsening the problem. There are plenty of ways to collaborate with carriers efficiently, including sharing data with 3PLs and using a TMS to seamlessly manage end-to-end logistics–especially in e-commerce logistics. 

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2. Limited Visibility After Last Mile Trucks Leave the Dock

Typically, the last place tracking numbers will report during the final mile distribution is at the loading docks. Since the final mile is the most crucial step of the delivery, consumers often get anxious waiting for the package and hoping it gets to them on time. Some companies, such as UPS, have opted in to allowing constant tracking during the last leg of the package’s journey. Others may even require the driver to submit a picture of the area the package was delivered.

3. Problems Maintaining Efficiency Due to Poor Route Optimization

Most drivers, whether part of the business or not, have used a maps program on their phone to help them get to their destination accurately and promptly. Unfortunately, these apps do not always show the easiest or quickest route. Other issues may arise as well, such as internet connectivity on the road, which forces the driver to find a new route on their own. Making sure that each route is efficient and communicating this to the drivers can make everything easier.

4. Lackluster Notification Abilities Due to Lack of Scans for a Customer’s Package Until Delivery

There’s a running joke on the internet that people will track their packages instantly after ordering, despite the tracking number being nonexistent. There is plenty of truth to this; buying online is not the same as buying in-store. And, plenty of consumers are anxious to know every detail of the package’s whereabouts. Making sure the delivery drivers consistently scan the packages at each destination point, even way before the final mile distribution begins, is crucial in holding the consumer’s trust.

5. Limited Use of Automation Within Final Mile Logistics

Not allowing the use of automated deliveries, such as drones for delivery, can cost the company plenty of time and resources that didn’t need to be used. Modern vehicles are moving towards the idea of self-driving cars, so why not automate the final mile distribution? Of course, the entire step doesn’t have to be automated. One common idea is to allow the delivery driver to drive while the drone takes out packages; this means fewer stops and less wasted time. Additional automation opportunities, such as seamless data sharing and alerts, can go a long way in boosting transparency in final mile distribution. 

6. Drones—Ready or Not: They’re Not Coming for Several Years

Several years ago, many businesses began testing out the idea of using automated drones to deliver packages. This can be great; it reduces the amount of employees necessary, can bypass all traffic during final mile distribution, and lessen the potential for human error getting in the way. Unfortunately, trust in drones just isn’t in the general public’s minds yet. There are some types of packages that drones may not be good for, but customers aren’t yet ready. Because of these issues, utilizing drones won’t be a realistic capability for quite some time.

7. The Problem With Bad Weather in Managing the Final Mile

Weather is just one of those things you can’t control that can effect delivery. Many postal workers uphold a creed about weather, but this does not mean everything will be easy or even cheap. The best way to combat adverse weather to have a connected system to promptly deliver delay messages and be prepared for such days.

8. Theft After Delivery; It Is a Carrier/Shipper Problem

Unfortunately, there are people who can jeopardize the business that sometimes cannot be stopped. Large packages, as well as boxes with particular brand logos, are often the most stolen after final mile distribution. Consumers will become quite angry to realize their property has been stolen, and, in the heat of the moment, call everyone possible to find blame as a way to get their package back. Typically, courts will blame the carrier if there was proven negligence in security measures, reports the TLC Council. Moreover, this adds to freight claims costs and causes higher freight spend. 

9. Offering White Glove Services and Their Implications for Customer Contact

As mentioned several times, the consumer has a lot of time to be anxious throughout the delivery process. Allowing white glove services can help keep up that trust between the entire business and the consumer with installation, setup and debris haul away services. 

10. Using Data to Improve Last Mile With Limited Ability to Track Data

Unfortunately, sometimes the technology available just isn’t good enough to transmit data promptly. This can result in confused workers, lost packages, and angry consumers. Creating a community or network around the distribution of packages can be extremely beneficial to everyone involved. This problem, as well as plenty of the others previously listed, can be improved upon by utilizing an advanced, connected, SaaS-based TMS. According to Inbound Logistics, “With greater visibility, businesses can share information faster and more efficiently. Vendors, carriers, and shippers can collaborate to work across each other’s networks, sharing transportation assets and creating economies of scale.” 

Reap the Rewards of Better Final Mile Distribution With the Right Partner

Managing the last mile distribution properly can allow for business to run smoothly, as well as keeping the customers, and delivery drivers, happy. Of course, unplanned things can happen, but the upmost importance is staying in contact with everyone involved in the service. The Cerasis Rater can make it happen.

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