Final mile is changing in the wake of the “Uberization” of trucking and disruptors in the industry, says Transport Topics. The days of managing final mile with nothing more than a scan at delivery and a scan at departure have ended. Today’s shippers need to gain real-time visibility into shipment location and expected time of delivery, providing more information to consumers and empowering efficiency within final mile logistics. As a result, shippers are looking to conduct new final mile provider evaluations, reviewing the use of current shipping partnerships and expanding their fleets to offer better service, including service after the sale in the form of white-glove logistics. Of course, not all solutions are created equally, and failure to carefully consider the benefits versus drawbacks of each provider could result in added costs and lost opportunities. To avoid these problems, shippers should ask these final mile provider evaluation questions.
This is the most fundamental question to ask. Shippers must know what technologies carriers and supply chain partners use to increase transparency in the final mile. This might include trucks connected to the Internet of Things, real-time access to data, automated notification systems, and more. Furthermore, a new lineup of technologies, including mobile-optimized communications, will connect shippers with final mile delivery drivers, further ensuring any disruption can be managed appropriately.
Next, shippers should ask what service a provider offers when the shipper is considering onboarding a new final mile partner. Yes, it sounds complicated, but the premise is simple. Effective final mile service providers should have a defined onboarding process for helping shippers that are considering reevaluating their final mile strategies to determine whether the given company is a good fit.
Another factor goes back to the level of customer service available for shippers in scheduling shipment, tendering shipments, tracking shipments, and managing after-delivery needs. This is especially useful for large, bulky items that would require a degree of white-glove service, including installation and setup within the home or delivery address.
The elephant in the room of final mile provider evaluation focuses on resource availability. The best-laid plans for increasing transparency into final mile will fail if the provider does not have the available resources to meet such demands. As a result, it is crucial to consider the current resources the final mile logistics management service provider has available. It is also vital to know the expected growth of the company when reviewing providers.
The “Uberization” of trucking has another name, the Uberization of Everything. In today’s world, anyone can turn their personal vehicles into a delivery business, and while Amazon has successfully launched this capability, it is only a matter of time before new companies promise the same results. Yes, everyday citizens can now take on the capabilities of third-party logistics providers, but shippers need to evaluate whether these new final mile provider options are worth it. In other words, is the company capable of surviving and offering value to your organization? In simpler terms, does the provider have the financial stability and capability to meet all your needs, as well as the needs of the future?
Speaking of meeting needs, it is essential to understand whether the company offers ongoing training and certification for its employees. If not, customer service levels may diminish, and additional disruptions may arise. However, effective final mile provider evaluation will sort out these low-performing, high-risk companies and help your business grow. At the same time, it is important to look for companies offering solutions that integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, including the point-of-sale systems. This eliminates the risk of losing data and errors when scheduling final mile delivery. Furthermore, integration reduces the risk of human error and improve the efficiency of shipment scheduling and management.
Any conversation surrounding final mile provider evaluation must also consider the use of after-delivery services, also known as white-glove services. Such services transform final mile delivery from a simple drop off into a comprehensive experience that ensures customers are happy and satisfied. White-glove services might include the installation of new products, moving appliances into the appropriate areas within the home, and more. In fact, white-glove services can take on a whole new meaning by looking beyond the product being delivered, such as helping customers remove the older, unwanted items. For example, if a customer orders a new refrigerator, they should have the option to have their existing refrigerator removed at the time of delivery. In fact, customers are more than likely willing to pay for such services, as well as wait longer for the arrival of their new items, when these services exist.
Finding the right final mile provider can be hard but conducting a comprehensive final mile provider evaluation and asking these key questions will streamline the process. Final mile is everything in logistics management, and the best-laid plans for all preliminary processes will fall short if the final mile fails. As a result, shippers should in the process of finding a dedicated, comprehensive final mile solutions provider, such as Cerasis, which offers a final-mile-inclusive platform, the Cerasis Rater.
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