Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) shipping experiences play out within the final mile. Today’s customers of both types want real-time access to shipment information and expect automated alerts when things go wrong. As reported by Inbound Logistics, “73% of shoppers believe messages containing order tracking are very important. Proactive updates when things go wrong are just as important: 98% of shoppers feel better about a company if they’re notified immediately about an issue.” Why? The answer to that question lies in understanding the need for better cost control in the last mile and why everything impacts the last mile customer experience.
Managing entire shipment visibility within the last mile remains a key problem for shippers around the globe. According to Richard Weissman of Supply Chain Dive, demand for online shopping has only soared with each passing season, and consumers still expect “timely, non-damaged goods irrespective of the source.” Meanwhile, the impact of a poor shopping experience has a dramatic effect on the likelihood that a customer will make a repeat purchase with a given retailer in the future. In fact, up to 47% of survey respondents reported that they would not return to retailers where the last mile customer experience was subpar. Unfortunately, the last mile and its lacking visibility make it almost impossible to manage and intervene when necessary to ensure a positive customer experience. It does not help that the volume of freight in last mile logistics has also gone through the proverbial roof.
According to Freight Waves, “home delivery option for products has always been a given with regard to retail stores, but the delivery has always been subject to the locality, with it being highly location specific. But with the advent of e-commerce, inventories have expanded and so has the range of delivery.” Thus, shippers have a higher risk for overlooking problems within the final mile customer experience.
The last mile is also the most important step of any logistics strategy or process because it is where the actual interaction with the customer occurs. Failures within the last mile customer experience mean one of several events has taken place. These include:
The list is endless of things that may go wrong in the last mile customer experience. Regardless, shippers must invest in supply chain visibility to diminish the risk of returns due to a poor customer experience. Remember that in today’s world, customers expect free, fast returns. It might be a costly strategy, but Amazon sets the standard. Supply chain executives must ensure their organizations align with this capability, and any reason for a bad customer experience will increase the likelihood of a return for an e-commerce purchase.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of potential improvements that can enhance the last mile customer experience. Among these, transportation management systems (TMS) can give shippers the ability to understand carrier costs and lower freight spend. Meanwhile, connected, integrated warehouse management systems (WMS) can seamlessly populate data from the order fulfillment system to the TMS. A common theme in successful deployment of supply chain management systems and platforms is the ability to seamlessly share accurate data in a timely manner. Yes, some organizations can invest millions into robotics to squeeze more efficiencies from every process and eliminate as many human workers as possible. That is not reality. The reality of the modern supply-chain is that connectivity and collaboration are the cornerstone of building a successful customer experience and achieving profitability.
There’s no catch-all way to guarantee positive last mile experiences. The next best option lies in creating a collaborative supply chain that shares data seamlessly and empowers customers, regardless of the type of transaction, to understand what to expect. In other words, visibility again is essential to creating the best last mile customer experiences, and even when problems arise, clear communications and concise resolutions can transform a negative experience into a life-long customer-shipper relationship. The whole situation is somewhat precarious, and the burden of taking the first step to ensure that experience remains positive is in your hands.
To subscribe to our blog, enter your email address below and stay on top of things. We'll email you with a confirmation of your subscription.
Send this to friend