The Traits Defining Successful Final Mile Shipping
The growth of online shopping has resulted in an increased demand for final mile shipping. Retailers who can deliver their products to customers as promised and with excellent customer experiences are gaining market share and creating loyal customers. However, final mile shipping isn’t simply about moving orders from the distribution center or mixing center to the customer’s doorstep. It’s about providing an experience which will keep customers coming back for more. If it isn’t enough to simply get the product to the customer, what traits make for the most successful final mile shipping operations?
Speed of delivery – In the past, ordering a product from a magazine or online and receiving it within 4 – 6 weeks was the norm. Modern consumers no longer accept such a long delivery period. Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping guarantee sets a high bar for retailers who must now compete with this standard. 2-day shipping has become an industry expectation, though some shoppers will settle for 3 – 5 day shipping. Others will even pay a premium for same-day or next-day delivery of their orders.
Successful final mile shipping operations are putting an emphasis on promising and delivering goods fast. There are a number of ways to speed up the supply chain, and most of them require implementing technology. Many retailers are leveraging TMSs to optimize their delivery routes, consolidate orders and streamline operations at the dock. Others are sourcing warehousing space within city centers to reduce the total number of miles traveled. Still others are letting customers pick-up their online orders at designated locations such as grocery stores or lockers in public places.
Visibility – Visibility to orders has taken on a whole new meaning in the recent years. Merely confirming that an order has been received and supplying a delivery timeframe no longer meets customer expectations. Instead, shoppers expect to be able to track their goods through every step of the supply chain. This means being able to identify where the item was warehoused, what shipping service was used for transport, and when carrier changes occur en route. And all of these steps in the process must be trackable for the customer in real-time.
Until recently, providing Amazon-like visibility has been a challenge for smaller retailers hoping to give their customers access to order statuses in real-time. An API Integration to a TMS platform helps retailers track shipments down to the SKU level. With that information automatically received from the TMS, retailers can provide their customers alerts and updates regarding their orders. This tracking ability helps retailers answer questions like ‘when can I expect my order,’ ‘where is my order now’ and ‘what is causing a delay in shipment.’
Flexibility – Current consumers expect that their shopping experience will fit their needs. There are a myriad of ways consumers like to shop, whether that be online, from an app, in a store, or otherwise. Customers also expect to be able to receive their purchases when they want and how they want. This means offering them flexible delivery options such as in-store pick-up, delivery to their doorstep or at a designated drop off location. It also means letting them choose the cost and service type that best fits their budget and needs.
Retailers can provide their customers the ability to flexibly customize their delivery preferences when ordering. This can be achieved with the help of a TMS which connects selected carriers “behind the scenes” to provide accurate rate quotes directly to the customer based on their order specification. This means that when a customer is ordering from a retailer’s website, they can see pricing and speed of delivery for different service types. To win customers and gain market share, retailers must provide consumers with delivery options to meet their individual needs.
Perfecting final mile delivery is a hot topic for retailers hoping to capitalize on e-commerce’s growing importance in consumer shopping. Without offering fast, flexible and trackable shipping options, retailers may find that their customers go elsewhere. With the help of technology like Kuebix TMS, retailers can gain detailed tracking information on shipments, compare carrier rates and modes and optimize their supply chains for speed of delivery.