If you think that price is important for a purchase you are right.
If you believe that it will determine the second purchase of your customer then you are wrong. He won’t come back to your e-commerce if the shipping process is not correct.
Nowadays, online customers seek an easier access to products in the online environment. If you fail to fulfil those expectations, your e-commerce won’t flourish.
It is simple and complicated at the same time. As an e-commerce professional, you proably know that this is a complex topic which depends on many different elements.
One of them is the known as the last mile, which is the last route to the destiny before the product is delivered to the customer. And this usually is uncontrollable for us.
In Boardfy, we want to shed light on the last mile issue and suggest some solutions.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Delivery logistic problems: the challenge
As a consequence of e-commerce growth, the last mile issue is getting increasingly complex both for logistics operators and distribution companies. There are several elements that complicate the effectiveness of the delivery and raise the costs of your e-commerce:
- Increase of online customers
The increasing number of requests of home deliveries also implies the increase of returns, and the main reason for returns is the imperfections of the products.
- Customers are not at home
It is difficult to find customers at home because of their working hours. This turns the delivery into an odyssey and provokes negative reactions in the customers.
- Opacity of transportation service
Some issues may occur between the shipper and the customer at the time of the delivery. This projects a bad image for your e-commerce, even though those attitudes towards the customer do not reflect the company’s real environment.
- Logistics as part of the product value
Logistics have been traditionally valued from the point of view of cost, leaving quality behind. Nowadays, logistics must be valued from the quality of service as it is a great value added for the customer.
- Delivery is essential for the customer
Customers want e-commerce to offer them some delivery advantages: products arriving without mistakes, in perfect conditions and as fast as possible.
Last mile solutions
We should optimise the processes of the last mile to make sure that your business maintains its competitiveness and satisfies the customers. Even though it may seem too complex, the smallest changes (not the easiest to implement) are the most effective and now we can find lots of alternatives.
Control and tracking
Some types of software allow us to monitor that the delivery is correctly fulfilled.
Those programs control the information about the vehicles state, deliveries and shipper management, so than e-commerce managers can control the logistics and feedback.
They can gather information about delivery forms, images of the signed delivery documents or even photos of the products.
Besides controlling the whole delivery process, it is also important that the customer knows the delivery state, so giving him a tracking code helps to defuse tensions during the last mile.
‘Uberisation’ of the last mile
The buying process does not end with the chart confirmation, but with the home delivery. This should be done as fast and effectively as possible. Some e-commerce and brands have already started to use strategies inspired by other industries.
We refer to the ‘uberisation‘ of the last mile as a key point to reduce shipping costs and add some dynamism to the process.
Sellers send the goods to some operation centres, publish the delivery details on apps and websites, and people (for example, students) deliver those products in exchange of a minimum wage.
Companies are clear about the benefits of this system, as they offer low cost deliveries, constant package movement, and get a greater agility. Nevertheless, logistics companies remind us that the ‘uberisation’ of the market is not that simple. Behind all their deliveries there is a large amount of work to find the best routes, systems and tools to achieve an ideal delivery, which is almost imposible to reach y an amateur.
Amazon has recently joined this trend with their last mile delivery system Amazon Flex, which allows independent drivers to deliver those packages. It has only been tested in the US and it is functioning in just a few cities, but if it works it will be more than likely extended to other countries.
Besides, Amazon itself and its Prime service offers a different way to correct last mile issues, especially in a international scale. If you use the FBA system with your products, you’ll have at your disposal the whole Amazon logistics, both storage and shipment, and your products will have a safer, faster and more economic delivery.
Drones and delivery robots
This may seem taken from a sci-fi book, but it is a real project that sooner or later will start working (after a few infrastructure and legal issues are solved).
For now, there are two main actors on this story: Amazon and Starship.
In the case of Amazon, they have just delivered their first products using drones to real customers with the Amazon Prime Aire programme. In fact, the first delivery was carried out in the UK on December 7th in less than 13 minutes since the purchase order was sent.
Simply taking in account the delivery time, the benefits of the use of drones during the last mile are obvious. However, this kind of deliveries are quite limited to certain customers and meteorological conditions.
As we said, there’s still a long way to go until this system can function correctly. The different national laws about drones, physical obstacles for deliveries inside cities and other several elements reflects that this idea needs a maturation period.
Even though air deliveries are more spectacular, we also find technological innovations on land. British company Starship Technologies has developed an autonomous small electric vehicle to deliver food to customers.
For now, it has been tested in 68 cities (40 of them European) of 16 different countries with food chains like Just Eat, Pronto and Metro Group. There has’t been a single problem after over 12,000 kilometres and crossing almost 400,000 people.
To this point, it is clear that robots will change forever the courier services, either by air or by land.
The last mile is a crucial element in deliveries, both for e-commerce and customers. A deficient service causes an extra cost and the possible loss of a customer. You should keep in mind that client acquisition is as important as fidelity programs, and fast, effective deliveries are essential for that customer to make a new purchase at your shop.
For that, it is necessary to use any available tools to make the last route easier to cope, either by air or by land.