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The parcel journey: From first-mile to last-mile delivery

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The increase in popularity and adoption of e-commerce is largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc and affected many industries. However, the online retail industry has seen tremendous growth. With safe distancing policies and lockdowns being implemented, consumers who have no choice but to stay at home turned to e-commerce platforms to meet their daily needs. This has sparked the rise in e-commerce start-ups, with many even seeing an opportunity to set up a business on social media. Experts predict that e-commerce sales in Hong Kong will increase to US$35.22 billion in 2027, figures by Statista reveal, indicating that online shopping isn’t just here to stay but to dominate how we make purchases in the future.

With the change in the customers’ consumption habits,  businesses are pivoting from their traditional way of operating to ensure greater customer convenience and satisfaction. Along with it comes product quality, availability, as well as fast and high-quality logistics services, aspects that are crucial to customer retention and brand loyalty. In fact, ensuring that your customers receive their parcels on or ahead of schedule is key to customer satisfaction. Research by HubSpot states that 93% of consumers are more likely to make repeated purchases at companies that provide excellent customer service and punctual delivery. Statistics have also shown that 88% of consumers are willing to pay for same-day delivery, data by GoPeople indicate.

So how does first and last-mile delivery affect customer satisfaction and why is it important? 

What are first-mile and last-mile delivery services? 

First-mile delivery is the movement of goods through the first stage of the supply chain. This can mean transporting goods from a production facility to a warehouse or storage area for distribution or from the warehouse to a courier. In the case of a logistics service provider, first-mile logistics refers to the collection of goods from the retailer and dropping them off at their warehouse for subsequent delivery to the user, or direct delivery to the customer in the case of same-day delivery.  This can involve multiple products from multiple suppliers, all of which need to be handled carefully and efficiently to ensure transparency, and quality of delivery.

On the other hand, last-mile delivery refers to the last movement of goods in the supply chain where the consumer receives the product. Many users expect to receive real-time tracking information and better visibility until the package is received. 

Although significant efforts are being made to improve last-mile logistics services, not much attention is being paid to improving first-mile logistics. This is even though they are just as important as last-mile delivery, since both require fast and reliable delivery of packages, and thus will have a massive impact on the entire business. Therefore, ensuring that first and last-mile delivery services are an integral part of the delivery process is key for businesses to gain a competitive advantage.

How DHL Express supports first to last-mile delivery

The various first and last-mile delivery services offered by DHL Express are as listed:

1. DHL Lockers

Here in Hong Kong, DHL Express has introduced its first-mile service in the form of DHL Lockers. This service provides an added convenience for busy customers who are unable to visit any of the DHL Express ServicePoints. They will first create a waybill through MyDHL+ before dropping off the package at one of the DHL Lockers conveniently located in the city. An SMS notification will be sent to update them on the status of their package. To use DHL Lockers when sending shipments, follow these simple steps:

  1. Prepare your waybill with MyDHL+.
  2. Attach the waybill and invoice to your package. 
  3. At the DHL Locker, to have your parcel stored into a compartment, scan the first and third barcodes on the label. You will then be given instructions of which locker to put your parcel in. If you’re sending multiple packages with a single waybill, you will be prompted with additional instructions.

2. Flexible delivery options

Through shipment tracking, customers are informed in real-time about the status of their orders and when they will receive it. DHL Express’ On Demand Delivery (ODD) allows customers the option to decide where and when to receive international deliveries. On-demand and day-definite delivery services allow customers the option to choose time-definite delivery and indicate delivery addresses. The delivery options of On Demand Delivery also include:

  • Schedule your delivery: Customers can now choose when they want to receive their shipments. 

  • Signature release: Customers can choose to opt out of needing a signature, so couriers can simply leave the parcel at an agreed-upon area.

  • Leave with neighbour: Customers can choose to leave your packages with your neighbour or management office.

  • Alternate address: If receivers would like to send the shipment to another address, they have the flexibility to list an alternative address. 

  • Collect from ServicePoint / DHL Locker / convenience store: Receivers can pick up the shipments at nearby ServicePoint, DHL Locker or convenience store if they do not wish to wait for the courier at home. 

  • Vacation hold: If customers are on vacation, they have the option to have their shipments put on hold and delivered at a later date.

In addition, customers can utilise the Receiver Registration function of the ODD to select their preferred delivery option in advance. Customers will need to download the DHL Express Mobile App and register for an account after completing an OTP authentication. Through the app, they can set up one or more delivery preferences, through which they can select their preferred delivery address and choice of delivery mode for each shipment.

DHL Express is the world's leading logistics company, leveraging new technologies and introducing innovative services that provide businesses and customers with efficient, convenient, and fast first and last-mile delivery services. By identifying and addressing the key trends shaping last-mile transportation in cities, namely localised delivery, flexible delivery networks, seasonal logistics, and evolving technologies, DHL Express is able to offer innovative solutions to its customers. Open a DHL Express business account today and discover how we can help you and your business with first and last-mile delivery.