The last mile of delivery presents an excellent opportunity for eCommerce companies to serve their customers quicker and more transparently and efficiently. It, however, poses big challenges, too, in the form of hurdles that lie while in transit en route to the customer.
The last mile of delivery refers to the phase when a product is dispatched for delivery to the time it is received by the customer. By optimising the last mile of delivery, as an eCommerce company, you can maximise sales, cut costs, build your brand, and enhance your customers' shopping experience.
Over the years, last-mile delivery have indeed become a key factor that's bridging the gap between brands and their customers. Here's why. According to statista.com, home delivery was still the most utilized last-mile delivery option for the majority of consumers, with 85 percent of them stating they had their online purchases delivered to their home. Collect-in-store was another popular delivery option with 62 percent of consumers having used this service. Delivery to a locker was the least opted for option used by only 13 percent of consumers in the UK as of 2018.
By offering same-day delivery, you can best entice people into buying an item from your website. It is like making an offer one can hardly refuse, provided - you sell authentic products at appropriate prices, and that the product photos and descriptions that are put up on display are accurate reflections of how and what the product actually is.
Even if you cannot offer one or two hour-day delivery (given the challenges of such quick delivery), a prompt delivery within two to three days considerably increases the likelihood of a person buying a product from your Web site.
Take the following preventive measures and resort to the below mentioned smart ways to ensure a smooth last-mile delivery.
Select a logistics partner that allows their delivery executives and your customer to contact each other via chat and call. Opening up of the communication means and allowing interactions between the delivery person and customer, helps in reducing the cases of missed deliveries.
Also, ensure that your logistics partner offers a real-time tracking facility for the movement of the shipment. Then, not only the customers but also the store managers—who can actually monitor and supervise the last mile movements to a large extent and can ensure timely delivery—can track the product while in transit.
a) Prioritise Orders
Prioritise your orders based on the following factors for more efficient last-mile delivery.
b) Offer Premium Delivery Option
Statistics have shown that consumers don't mind paying a nominal additional amount to get prompt delivery of the item they ordered. So, you can charge them a little extra to bear a part of the additional cost behind prompt delivery. Do provide this option to buyers.
Give your customers various pick-up options, so they can select one according to their convenience. Besides home delivery, provide customers with the following options:
Pick-up over the counter from the nearest store based on product availability - This facility provides the customers with the option to go and immediately pick up the item they bought online.
Pick-up from the nearest centre of delivery by setting up several hyperlocal hubs at important locations across a city instead of one centralised warehouse - This facility provides customers who aren't sure of where they would be on a given day - to pick up their order by themselves going to the nearest located hub.
Delivery at an authorised alternate address in case there's no one to collect the parcel at the primary address - This facility reduces the chances of failed delivery by delivering the item to a neighbouring address authorised by the customer themselves.
You should send notifications via multiple means of communication to make sure they are read or seen by customers. Use the popular means of communication, like e-mail, SMS, WhatsApp, in-app notifications, and a phone call to proactively intimate your customer in case of any delay in delivery or cancellation of order or occurrence of any other undesired event to let your customers know in advance what is coming. This would, in turn, reduce any chances of friction with customers in the last leg of delivery.
One of the biggest hazards of online shopping is the return or exchange of a product and refund of money in case of valid reasons. The time to return/exchange/refund is considerably dependent on the last mile of delivery, which incidentally becomes the first mile when the product is to be returned or exchanged. Most of the aforesaid points apply to this point, too.
Facilitate prompt exchange or return by having a systematic coordination mechanism with your logistics partner. This would keep a customer relaxed and assured, too, that their money is not going to be swindled in case they don't like the product or want them exchanged.
Provide customers with the benefits of brick-mortar-store shopping to the extent possible to allay any growing want in them to visit a store and do physical shopping. One of the best ways to replicate a close to brick-mortar-store shopping experience is by smoothing out the last mile of delivery, and in so doing, ensuring that products are delivered to your customers at the quickest possible time.