As explained by Business Insider, effective final mile strategies enable competition with Amazon, the largest e-commerce retailer on the planet. Unfortunately, Amazon’s sheer size means it affects every industry involved in the sale or transfer of merchandise, including general retail, whole distribution for business partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), furnishings, appliances, electronics and more. If shippers want to stay competitive with Amazon, they must re-evaluate their shipping strategies, particularly those affecting customer service the most—final mile processes. Moreover, shippers should consider the benefits of implementing improved final mile procedures in these critical industries.
According to Logistics Management, Amazon, Target, and Walmart have built a record for the most influential retail experiences for customers, offering same-day service on millions of orders. Unfortunately, the average shipper struggles to provide the same capabilities, especially at Amazonian price points. However, improved final mile strategies and increased transparency into actual cost impacts can help.
Wholesale distribution is also changing its approach to final mile management. Although Amazon and the big box retailers have pushed thousands of small businesses out of the picture, the economy is improving. There is an ongoing push to shop more with local and sustainably sourced enterprises, especially in grocers and clothing retailers. As a result, wholesale distribution is changing to meet these needs, and it has a simple route. Customers expect their products here today, especially for items that have been purchased online. For items that can be bought online and picked up in-store (BOPIS), effective final mile logistics management in wholesale begins the process.
OEMs also must improve final mile strategies. Today’s consumers are more informed than ever before, and they can find out how to repair virtually anything online. While plenty of consumers still opt to go to traditional technicians and service shops for their needs, OEMs must have a way of shipping direct-to-consumer. As a result, final mile strategies must include the use of OEM transportation networks to get products to consumers at the same timeline set forth by Amazon and the big box retailers.
Even companies that have retained a level of independence from Amazon, such as home furnishing providers, are seeing changes in the final mile as well. Take, for example, Wayfair. The company has always been known for providing unique home furnishings and other pieces of furniture for customers that cannot seem to find what their local vendors have. With the rise of Amazon and Walmart’s extensive catalog, Wayfair sought to change the game, offering fast, free shipping on the “big stuff.” Unfortunately, the only way to deliver fast, free shipping on big bulky items means effective management of the final mile.
Keeping the Wayfair example in mind, consider the final mile of appliance delivery. Appliances can be quite complex, and if you have purchased a smart refrigerator, you know setting it up is not as simple as it sounds. As a result, more appliance distributors and sellers are looking for ways to provide better customer service, and with the globalization of purchasing, hiring an in-house team to deliver products might work for local areas, but it falls short when delivering on a global scale.
Electronics are another area where the final mile is evolving to help consumers set up their products, which may include installing software or integrating new systems with existing electronics. In a sense, it is the same problem warehouses have faced for years; how do companies take advantage of new technology and integrated successfully without causing unnecessary disruptions?
Final mile strategies surround every interaction in today’s economies. Effective final mile management will lend big business benefits, including improved customer service, increased rate of repeat purchases and more. As final mile strategies evolve and move further away from traditional retail into new industries, shippers will turn to final mile as the new low-hanging fruit within the supply chain network.
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Many retailers have implemented buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) strategies without realizing it. Although the name invokes the fears of coding and advanced systems, it refers to the process of buying a product online and picking it up in the store, i.e., BOPIS. This concept gives supply chains a non-traditional means of fulfilling orders and moving product. In addition, it solves critical challenges in final mile strategies, reduces costs associated with inventory management, and more. Shippers in need of cost reductions and better final mile service should consider implementing a BOPIS strategy.
Today’s final mile strategies are the result of traditional supply chains moving product from a vendor or from a manufacturer to consumers’ homes. Yet, the places where consumers want to have a package delivered have changed. Yes, they still can shop in brick-and-mortar locations, but the most significant part of a BOPIS strategy derives from its impact to existing supply chain challenges. For example, with e-commerce on the rise, shippers need a way to overcome the following challenges without increasing costs.
Consider these ways BOPIS neutralizes costs for retailers managing the order fulfillment and shipping process:
According to Shopify, supply chain leaders should follow these steps in creating and implementing
BOPIS fulfillment strategies:
BOPIS-driven processes rely on a complex network of connected systems and overarching dedication to provide the right product, sell it for the right price, and get it during the next visit to the physical location. There will always be demand for ship-to-home purchases, but retailers can and should take advantage of BOPIS final mile strategies to avoid unnecessary expenses and increase customer service.
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