Few processes carry the weight of shipping as the final mile. As noted by Inbound Logistics, the final mile forms the most critical part of the customer experience. It is during this phase that customer desires become customer experiences, and any delay or misstep will lead to upset consumer. The final mile customer experience is everything, and like all other industries, digital transformation is changing the shape of customer experiences through improved, better customer service says iScoop. Shippers need to understand how this is occurring and why using a final mile inclusive TMS can offer enhanced customer experiences like Amazon.
This question is the elephant in the room. Customers expect the best service, at the lowest cost and product delivery today. It is not enough to simply offer free today shipping, and if Amazon continues its current path, even same-day shipping will eventually be replaced with two-hour delivery. It is a continuously evolving problem, and shippers that cannot stay competitive with Amazon will lose customers to the e-commerce behemoth.
An advanced TMS establishes standardized processes that can be managed proactively. This capability offers a flexible, transparent process for handling the entire logistics network, including final mile delivery. Although final mile delivery is traditionally defined as the last touchpoint of a shipment when it goes “out for delivery,” the rise of same-day shipping means the entire logistics process is final mile delivery. Combined with the use of brick-and-mortar stores as fulfillment centers and connecting with more local and regional carriers to fulfill e-commerce orders, shippers have an opportunity to increase profitability dramatically. Unfortunately, the risk assumed will also increase the chances of failure. The only way to increase accountability within the final mile lies within leveraging all available technology, such as real-time GPS sensors, automated notifications, exception automation, and a TMS, to provide continuous, real-time insight into final mile delivery.
Now, the question becomes, “what are the benefits of offering more delivery options to customers?” That question seems counterproductive. How can a shipper that wishes to improve final mile delivery strategies use non-traditional fulfillment models, such as buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) to increase customer service? When customers have more options, they are more likely to return to the merchant. At the same time, customers that choose to leverage a pickup in-store model effectively transforms the final mile delivery journey into an in-store function. Workers within the brick-and-mortar store pick and pack customer orders, so all fuel costs associated a fulfilling in order from a traditional warehouse vanish. Most importantly, customers see this added function as a viable option, revealed by the success of companies that have launched curbside pickup options. Ultimately, offering more delivery options to customers through a comprehensive, integrated TMS and connected systems throughout the entire supply chain will streamline final mile processes and provide a jolt to the final mile customer experience.
Customer experiences are everything in today’s world, regardless of industry. A positive customer experience can bring in the masses, and a negative delivery experience will alienate customers everywhere. As the industry continues to evolve through new technologies and disruptors, small and midsized businesses (SMBs) will face considerable uncertainty. However, those that focus on building a successful final mile customer experience can realize the full potential of an integrated, omnichannel supply chain. In a sense, successful final mile strategies that leverage a TMS, new delivery models, and real-time data will rise to power.
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