Ensuring a seamless journey of a product or a parcel from a warehouse to a customer's step depends a lot on the performance of the last mile carrier or provider. A last mile carrier is critical to the link between a business and their customer. Over the years the way enterprises executed carrier operations have changed. For a good part in the history of transportation and logistics, the way products, parcels and couriers were moved, remained the same. In other words it used to be knee-deep in inefficiencies, riddled with manual dependencies and barely had sound strategies in place to execute seamless last mile carrier tracking.
Owing to rapid technological advancements and inclusion of digitalization in legacy transportation practices, the way last mile carriers are managed have gotten better. But there is still a long way to go before we realize the full potential or impact a last mile provider can make when armed with digital logistics tools. Let’s quickly understand the basics of last mile such operations.
A last mile carrier is an entity that transports products and parcels from a warehouse or a hub to its end destination, in other words the customer. By customers we mean both businesses in the B2B world and end-consumers in a B2C space. Some of the key objectives of a last mile provider are ensuring timely deliveries, optimizing vehicle capacity, reducing transportation costs and providing delightful delivery experiences to end-customers. Some popular examples of last mile carriers would be DHL, Blue Dart, FedEx, UPS among others. Last mile carriers are the unsung heroes of the online delivery ecosystem. We will tell you why in a bit.
With rapidly changing market dynamics like evolving customer expectations, changing business objectives, COVID-19 regulations and environmental compliance executing carrier operations have become extremely complex. Below are some of the key challenges a last mile carrier needs to address to optimize and enhance their performance.
In a world driven by instant gratification, modern customers demand to know where their orders are, when they will arrive and who will be delivering the same at any given point in time. In most cases, last mile carriers lack the tools required to deliver on these expectations. Above that today’s consumers want their orders to be delivered fast. They are even willing to spend extra to get their orders within a day or less. According to a study, 80% of shoppers today want same-day shipping, while 61% want their packages even faster — within 1-3 hours of placing an order. That’s one part of this problem.
In reality customers do not really know the 3PL provider or carrier that will be delivering their parcel. Their relationship is directly with the brand from whom they purchased the products. So, in case of delays or any inconsistencies the customer will get back to the brand with complaints and resolution requests. This makes the role of a last mile provider critical as upholding the reputation of a retailer, eCommerce provider, grocery chains and manufacturers is on their shoulders. Hence, such carriers are often referred to as the unsung heroes in the world of supply chain and online delivery.
Perhaps a decade or more ago ‘price’ used to be the critical factor when it came to battling competition. Soon with better access to information and improvement in standard of living, customers began to focus more on the quality of products they are buying. Businesses had to align their strategies accordingly. Then with rapidly increasing consumer awareness and internet penetration ‘buying experience’ gradually started overtaking price. Now the quality of delivery ‘service’ a brand is known to provide has become an important determinant of deciding to buy a product.
A Logistics Bureau study highlighted that now 89% of retail companies are expected to be competing primarily on the basis of customer experience. This makes enterprises extremely dependent on last mile carriers not just with regards to delivering packages and parcels but also improving sales through customer loyalty and experience. The challenge is, last mile carriers often suffer from lack of interoperability with shippers with regards to systems and processes. There is an urgent need to create highly responsive tangent-points between carriers and enterprises across the delivery ecosystem.
The ongoing pandemic has disrupted the way enterprises execute the last leg of delivery. This directly impacts last mile operations. They now need to change their strategies so as to ensure seamless curbside deliveries, contactless deliveries, zero-cash payments and temperature tracking. Many carriers are struggling to introduce these forms of delivery in their existing models, the major reason being poor adoption of digital delivery tools.
Unfortunately, transportation activities is the one of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions--a major factor behind global warming and climate change. According to the World Resources Institute, emissions from the transport sector are a major contributor to climate change — about 14% of annual emissions (including non-CO2 gases) and around a quarter of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Governments across the world along with organizations like United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are setting up stringent regulations through nationally determined contributions to curb carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. This calls for carriers to seriously rethink the way they plan routing and reduce miles travelled per trip to shrink fuel consumption. Lack of robust tracking mechanisms stall last mile stakeholders from promptly acting on unnecessary route diversions and vehicle idling--two important reasons behind inefficient fuel usage.
Last mile delivery tracking is a key element in the delivery chain. It indeed makes or breaks the last mile process and customer experience. Last mile delivery carrier tracking can be defined as the process through which delivery stakeholders can constantly keep an eye on the movement and location of a delivery vehicle or fleet at any given point in time. Modern last mile carrier tracking platforms provide delivery stakeholders with ways to optimize fuel consumption, boost driver productivity and benchmark final mile KPIs accurately.
Last mile delivery tracking significantly enhances control over the delivery fleet. It mitigates transportation risks like theft and pilferage, helps accommodate changes in customer’s delivery location and ensures highly accurate ETAs (estimated time of arrival).
One of the major benefits of last mile carrier tracking is enhancing productivity. It eliminates chances of unnecessary diversions, triggers alerts in case of prolonged stoppages and vehicle idling and provides customers with live updates on delivery progress. Real-time tracking helps supply chain and logistics stakeholders improve SLAs adherence by ensuring that delivery KPIs are benchmarked with high-levels of accuracy.
Data generated through tracking can be stored and leveraged later to select a particular logistics provider based on previous performance. Some logistics providers are good with long haul transportation, some with usual warehouse to customer or hub-customer models and some have expertise in hyperlocal delivery channels. Modern tracking solutions can even help enterprises predict delays and ensure proactive resolution of challenges and exceptions. Last mile tracking can deliver capabilities like real-time dynamic routing that allow business to execute faster and same-day deliveries.
The benefits of last mile carrier tracking are quite wide, but it depends from whose perspective we are looking at those. Let’s quickly explain how tracking helps customers, 3PLs and enterprises.
The end goal of last mile operations is broadly split into two-parts. One, ensuring delightful delivery experiences and two, making deliveries profitable. As customer satisfaction and experience gradually overtakes price as the major competitive advantage, providing full visibility of delivery operations to end consumers via tracking tools will become imperative.
Savvy customers are impatient. They want to know, at any given point of time, post placing orders, where their packages are, when they will arrive and who will deliver the same. They want brands to intimate them with live notifications regarding last mile delivery progress. A modern last mile carrier tracking solution delivers on all these expectations and more. It empowers customers to change delivery location and time on the fly. It helps track body temperature of delivery executives and store staff and display the same to customers. Such a solution literally makes the middleman, the third-party entity who brings the order home, invisible to the customer. This establishes a healthy brand-customer relationship and boosts loyalty.
Final mile carriers are also referred to as 3PLs, third-party logistics providers. Tracking is critical for 3PLs. A lot of 3PLs providers suffer owing to poor tracking practices. Real-time final mile tracking helps 3PLs gain better control of their vehicles and drivers. It helps them accurately track performance of delivery executives and ensure more realistic reward programmes. It mitigates risks and vehicle wear-and-tear by ensuring drivers follow transportation regulations. Modern tracking solutions are powered by geofencing capabilities that immediately trigger alerts in cases of unnecessary diversions, prolonged halts, over speeding, vehicle idling and more.
Leveraging last mile carrier tracking tools, 3PLs can significantly improve routing by considering multiple variable factors like, weather patterns, one-ways, containment zones, tonnage, empty miles, traffic congestions, proximity from store, warehouse, hubs and customers and more.
Enterprises are the ones to reap the benefits of last mile carrier tracking almost immediately. By implementing it savvy enterprises are automating route planning, increasing end-to-end visibility of ground level and carrier operations, shrinking fuel costs, reducing carbon footprint, improving delivery productivity, ensuring seamless multi-drop fulfilment, generating delightful delivery experiences and more. Today last mile tracking platforms are powered by Machine Learning and predictive intelligence that drive faster and accurate decision making and study patterns in the last mile process that human eyes could not, thus opening up opportunities to further optimize costs and drive innovation.
The concept of tracking has evolved fast in the past five-six years. In today’s day and age it entails much more than just knowing where your delivery executive is. It helps build resiliency. It ensures that SLAs are adhered to. To make supply chain and logistics leaders build a proactive approach towards executing last mile operations. Robust tracking tools and practices can positively impact TCO (total cost of ownership) and generate greater value for both lines-of-business and customers.
There is no one way of answering this question. The time required to complete or executive delivery depends on a number of factors. What is the delivery type? Is it same-day or one hour or next day? Does the delivery include big box items and heavy machinery? In that case it may take more than a couple of days to get delivered. With regards to essential items like medicines, grocery and food, a last mile carrier usually delivers within hours time. Cold storage deliveries have unique last mile delivery models, but to ensure hygiene they need to be delivered fast, in a day’s time or so.
FarEye’s SaaS based last mile carrier management platform, empowers last mile carriers and shippers to drastically optimize, orchestrate and track delivery delivery operations at a very granular level. It’s helping enterprises across the globe improve carrier management, boost delivery profitability and significantly improve customer satisfaction. To know how you can quickly sign up for a demo here.