Merchants usually contact a courier or shipping service as a first step in moving their shipment along the supply chain. This is referred to as first-mile delivery. There are many variations of how this is applied according to the type, size, and scale of the industry. Adequate attention to first mile decisions and processes strengthens the possibility of a successful outcome and bolsters customer satisfaction.
What is First-Mile Logistics?
The first move in getting a product to the consumer is commonly referred to as first mile logistics. In general, it refers to transport but can also include assembling material. The highest aim of optimal first mile operations is meeting the customer’s needs according to varying timelines. Properly executed first-mile tracking managed variables in logistics, transportation, and inventory management processes. Providing visibility at this stage aids in predicting outcomes that positively influence final mile operations which involve the final part of the delivery when the product reaches the customer.
What is First-Mile Delivery?
When the products are packaged and prepared for shipment and ready to bring to the courier company, the first-mile delivery is activated. First-mile delivery is the procedure in which products are delivered to the final buyer; the last phase of the supply chain. An example of this is if you choose UPS as a courier, the first-mile delivery portion could involve your product being delivered from your warehouse to UPS’s warehouse. The effect of first-mile delivery is particularly impactful as it serves as the groundlaying for further logistics processes. When it is executed efficiently, the likelihood of a happy customer increases.
Highest Standards in First-Mile Ecommerce Operations
Ecommerce has experienced huge growth in recent years and competition is intense. It’s more important now than ever for businesses to do everything they can to ensure customer satisfaction. As a retailer, it’s your job to ensure this first phase of product delivery goes smoothly and without much trouble.
Careful consideration of first-mile delivery processes is essential for online retailers. Even before the first-mile stage, your company has invested time and money into researching the best sources for acquiring products and materials. After that, a careful selection of a courier is made. When negotiating with the courier, you need to ask the right questions that lead to an optimal agreement. If you ship internationally, learn the customs laws, and practices that need to be navigated. If you skip this, for example, it may result in carelessly handled or opened boxes that reach the customer in poor condition. In another scenario, the courier could help you deliver the package directly to the customer after signing a simple document.
First-Mile Delivery Challenges
Attention to detail is of utmost importance during first-mile delivery phases. Retailers must guarantee smooth delivery using all resources, materials, and knowledge available at every stage. If operations are carried out haphazardly, the delivery process becomes full of troublesome issues. This wastes time and resources, cutting into profit margins. The good news is that most of the pitfalls we’ll review here are easily avoidable.
Courier companies can’t do their job properly unless the first-mile delivery team does theirs. Some of the most prominent challenges faced in last-mile delivery include effective and real-time communication with the warehouse, reducing logistics costs, guaranteeing on-time delivery, and preventing rebounds. Strategizing delivery timing to navigate around traffic jams, for example, will help you meet your delivery timing goals.
The value of packing and labeling the packages properly shouldn’t be underestimated. If the address is erroneous or incomplete, shipping will be delayed. If the packaging is not customized according to its contents, it may arrive damaged or broken.
First-Mile Vs. Last-Mile Delivery
Simply put, first-mile delivery is at the start of the delivery portion of the supply chain and last-mile delivery is at the end of the supply chain. First-mile operations get the product from the manufacturer via a courier to a carrier. Last-mile operations finish when the order is delivered.
Although first-mile and last-mile operations are at opposite ends of the spectrum, parallels can be drawn between them.
Last-mile operations encompass moving goods between a transport hub to the delivery location. It is of utmost importance to keep a competitive edge and engage in innovative approaches to stay ahead of the competition. Success in the first-mile delivery process aids success in the last-mile delivery process. Both are significantly impactful on customer experience. Building strong communication between retailers and logistics providers is essential in providing customer satisfaction in both first-mile and last-mile deliveries. The last-mile delivery person often asks the customer to sign order receipts or digitally scan the packages, updating their status.
Both first-mile and last-mile carrier providers need to innovatively apply operating principles that save money, time, and accurately reach their target destination. To effectively address operations, warehouse inventory and routing need to be analyzed and made readily available. While previously many of these tasks were done manually, technical applications have become a must.
Optimizing First Mile Logistics
The key to optimizing first-mile logistics is automating processes. Expenses may be converted into funds for growth by applying the right technology. If first-mile operations conduct a lean performance it results in greater efficiency in truck loading and delivery times at the last mile of the supply chain.
Smart manufacturers take advantage of any opportunity to assess logistics and look for ways to improve the speed of getting their product to the consumer. They collate data among several operations phases, inter-logistically. This may involve such outcomes as being able to offer their goods at a lower cost, therefore gaining an edge in competition.
An audit of the tasks of the company’s workforce can give insights into how to reassign some of the human tasks to automated ones. This generates operational savings as well as helping to boost employee satisfaction as assigning them new and more complex tasks can be seen as a promotion. This also may cut back on high turnover rates.
Why First-Mile Operations Deserves Your Attention
Being the primary stage, first mile operations are of utmost importance in laying down a strong foundation. Happy customers are customers who got their goods in hand in superior condition, on time. Customers are lost when standards are low or inconsistent. There’s too much competition out there to neglect even small mistakes that could be inhibiting growth for your business.