New technologies and services continue to reshape the landscape of logistics, and as explained by Retail Dive, such services range from disruptors within the industry to a renewed focus on developing a successful final mile program. Final mile logistics represent the most significant opportunity for shippers today but finding ways to improve efficiency within an area of logistics prone to poor visibility remains difficult. Shippers that wish to create a successful final mile strategy should follow these steps.
A consumer-centric program must leverage data and accountability to give shippers an option for connecting with consumers. Connecting with consumers eliminates uncertainty concerning the planning of final mile program needs, and it can reduce the burden on traditional final mile delivery drivers. Moreover, the consumer-centric final mile program should always look for opportunities to solicit feedback from consumers and continuously improve.
Connected systems are superior to disparate systems. Connected systems ensure seamless data transmission between platforms, such as the WMS, TMS, and e-commerce platform. Integration further instills harmony within the entire process, eliminating disruptions and avoiding the risk of missed or late deliveries.
Automation is another area where a final mile can benefit. The final mile management should leverage automated resources, including those within the TMS, to simplify and standardize all operations from the first mile to the final mile.
Advanced analytics are the natural symbiote to automation, leveraging cloud-based algorithms, and machine learning to gain new insights into performance. These same benefits can be achieved by measuring and understanding final mile program performance. Furthermore, advanced analytics can help shippers recognize when the current delivery models fall short.
The use of “just leave on the porch” (JLOP) delivery models may have worked in the past, but they increase the risk of a lost or missed delivery. Unfortunately, those with malicious intent may steal from a person’s porch, and while technology in the home, including security cameras, can mitigate losses after the fact, shippers that take a proactive stance to eliminate all risk of a stolen package will grow in value.
OTR shipping modes range from less than truckload (LTL) to final mile, and shippers that diversify OTR shipping modes can successfully reduce strain on final mile logistics management and open the door to the increased efficiency and profitability.
Since the final mile is typically comprised of multiple stops within a short distance, more shippers should begin looking at the use of robots and drones for nearby deliveries. For example, delivering numerous packages within a single neighborhood can be achieved by drones significantly faster and with fewer costs than traditional delivery options.
Speaking of delivery options, it is essential to remember the ability to use your brick-and-mortar locations as fulfillment centers. The application of ship-from-store delivery options will reduce demand on carriers for long-haul transport, reducing shipping costs, and speeding fulfillment practices. In addition, stores can incentivize “buy online and pick up in-store” (BOPIS) options to eliminate the need for final mile shipping to the consumer’s home entirely.
Crowdsourcing final mile delivery is quickly increasing in popularity, and it can augment your existing workforce to deliver more packages in the final mile and with fewer costs associated than traditional operations.
There are hundreds of small steps shippers can take to improve final mile delivery, but most importantly, shippers need to ensure the accuracy, timeliness, and validity of all data entered when completing an order shipment tender. As a result, more shippers turn to use a dedicated TMS that considers all possible final mile program needs.
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