Final Mile Technology: What Tools Do Freight Shippers Need?

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How often do you really think about final mile technology? The chances are good that the final mile is often an afterthought, but the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and Target are changing the narrative. As explained by Supply Chain 24/7, technological development has changed the way supply chains operate, and ongoing development will bridge the divide between limited final mile technology solutions and real-time, actionable use. Therefore, shippers need to understand the problems within legacy technology, which technology can make a difference in final mile logistics and the steps necessary to take today to prepare for the future applications of technology within the most critical aspect of shipping.

What’s Wrong with Legacy Final Mile Technology?

Legacy, final mile systems were designed with a traditional process in mind. Transactions flowed from business to business, and eventually, a customer purchased an item in the store. The rise of e-commerce changed everything, and according to Logistics Management, the problem originates within Amazon, Target, and Walmart. The big three retailers of e-commerce have invested countless resources into the development of improved logistics management, and they have turned their invasive gaze toward final mile logistics. It is no longer enough to tell customers that a product will be here today. Customers want to know more information. What time it will be delivered, and what is going to be necessary to use it immediately? In other words, legacy final mile technology simply does not provide enough information to improve the final mile and connect with consumers.

A Guide to Optimize Final Mile

What Technology Do Shippers Need?

Every shipper has a different preference for what technology is necessary for the final mile. Regardless of what initiatives your company has taken, effective final mile technology must at least include:

  • TMS. Your transportation management system (TMS) must have the capability to look beyond the final mile, providing real-time planning and automated exception management for final mile needs.
  • WMS. Another critical component in effective final mile logistics management exists within the warehouse management system (WMS). The WMS kickstart’s planning of logistics, and it is responsible for the routing of order information to an appropriate warehouse, distribution center, or fulfillment center. As more brick-and-mortar stores are used as distribution centers, this is a critical final mile technology.
  • CRM. In addition, the customer relationship management (CRM) technology in use must allow shippers to communicate with customers to increase the level of customization for final mile delivery, especially when white glove services are necessary.
  • Integrated, Centralized Access to All of the Above. Final technology is simple, yet sophisticated. The above-listed systems work well to benefit the final mile delivery, but they must be connected and capable of sharing information. Your logistics strategy is only as strong as its weakest link, and disparate systems result in week links throughout your network.

Steps Companies Must Take Now to Use the Right Technology for Final Mile

The right technology in final mile logistics is everything. It allows companies to understand their costs and opportunities within this vital stage of logistics, and it serves as an additional opportunity for engaging with customers. Therefore, shippers should take the steps now to put the right technology and processes in place:

  1. Connect with customers through the upgrades or implementation of a dedicated CRM.
  2. Implement a standard OMS and WMS that eliminates the risk of lost orders and ensures orders are fulfilled from a location closest to customers.
  3. Invest in a final mile inclusive TMS to gain the level of end-to-end visibility in logistics and understand precisely what happens within final mile processes.
  4. Ensure accuracy within systems using advanced algorithms and analytics to comb through information, identify errors, and reduce delays.
  5. Take advantage of carrier-promoted same-day service options, which are increasing due to changes within the big three online retailers.
  6. Remember the disruptors in the final mile, which may offer a way to augment your final mile delivery options without the high overhead costs of additional freight consolidation and risking delays.
  7. Integrate all systems, especially as new systems or upgrades, are brought online.

Boost Final Mile Performance With the Right Technology

Final mile performance can be successfully boosted with the right final mile technology. Final mile technologies continue to evolve, and shippers that rely on outdated, legacy platforms will face the risk of lost customers and inferior competition with Amazon. Follow the steps above, and apply the right technology in your supply chain to get real control over final mile logistics.

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