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.

Retail

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

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

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.

Furniture

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.

Appliances

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

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 Considerations Shippers Must Make to Develop a Sound Strategy

The Right Final Mile Strategies Will Augment Your Shipping Efficiency

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.

Final Mile Management: A Shipper’s 30,000 Foot View

Challenges of Today’s Final Mile Strategies

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. 

  • It is almost impossible to compete with Amazon. Amazon continues to offer extremely low shipping and product pricing, as well as an endless variety of products. The only way for established, brick-and-mortar businesses to compete is to provide an experience that blends both online and traditional shopping, including the ability to BOPIS. 
  • Customers expect delivery on their terms, regardless of company policies. Customers utilizing BOPIS have a faster alternative to returns than shipping back to a warehouse. This convenience increases the appeal of BOPIS.
  • Free shipping is a standard, not the exception. Customers do not want to pay for shipping, but their expectation for fast shipping is increasing. Instead of trying to send products from a warehouse, the same items may be sitting on store shelves, ripe for the picking for BOPIS purchases.
  • Security of consumers homes presents challenges with final mile delivery. Advancements in technologies for home and personal safety are great, but they can increase the risk and difficulty of final mile delivery.

How BOPIS Will Neutralize Costs for Retailers

Consider these ways BOPIS neutralizes costs for retailers managing the order fulfillment and shipping process:

  • It reduces carrying costs.
  • BOPIS takes advantage of existing workers.
  • Innovative fulfillment strategies improve customer service through real-world interactions.
  • Effectively eliminates costs associated with shipping to consumer homes.
  • Shippers reduce necessary warehouse space.
  • It gives customers options for fulfillment.
  • BOPIS-enabled systems are mobile-ready.
  • BOPIS creates additional up selling opportunities.

Tips for Creating and Implementing BOPIS Fulfillment Strategies

According to Shopify, supply chain leaders should follow these steps in creating and implementing
BOPIS fulfillment strategies:

  • Gain support from team members and upper-level management.
  • Integrate warehouse/distribution center systems with in-store systems.
  • Take advantage of the convenience factor.
  • Eliminate unnecessary warehouses.
  • Fill orders with in-store stock when possible, including notifying customers of BOPIS-eligible items in the store today.
  • Consolidate warehouse space.

Create Your BOPIS-Driven Processes

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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