How implementing last mile delivery can benefit your business

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First and last-mile delivery are terms that logistics experts use to describe the movement of goods in the supply chain. When customers place an online order, the first leg of the supply chain journey starts when the retailer takes the item, packs it and hands it to the courier. This is referred to as first-mile delivery. Last-mile delivery happens when the item is transported from the shipping warehouse to the customer’s doorstep. 

In the supply chain, last-mile logistics is critical as it impacts a customer’s experience significantly. E-commerce giants like Amazon are driving customers’ expectations by offering fast and cost-effective delivery options. According to Emplifi, consumers place speed of delivery as their top two criteria when considering a purchase. 76% of consumers also view last-mile delivery as a test of how much a company values its customers. By providing fast and affordable delivery options, you can easily attract consumers to make a purchase. Read on to learn more about last-mile delivery and how you can use it to stay ahead of the competition.

How last-mile delivery is changing the e-commerce industry

Online shopping has become more mainstream, so retailers have to keep up with the ever-changing customer expectations. COVID-19 accelerated the shift in consumer buying behaviour, resulting in a significant influx in online purchasing. Although the rate of growth in e-commerce has tappered off – with just a 9.7% increase in 2022 – experts estimate that the percentage of sales made from online sales will still continue to increase. According to Shopify, at the end of 2020, 17.8% of sales were made online, and that number is expected to increase to 23% by 2025. This means e-commerce is here to stay.

The different players within the supply chain ecosystem had to deal with immense pressure in order to ensure shipments are delivered to customers in a timely manner. Customers expect fast deliveries from merchants. Retailers pressed logistics companies if there were shipping delays. Despite the sudden influx of issues, stakeholders are responding in many ways, such as digitisation, to promote resilience.

What are the advantages of last-mile delivery services

With e-commerce being an essential backbone of most retail businesses, last-mile logistics have to be improved to meet the high expectations of consumers. Hence, it is wise to leverage last-mile carrier services in order to boost profitability. Other advantages include:

1. Smooth shipping and faster delivery

Shipping can be confusing, especially for small businesses that have just started out. Partnering with last-mile courier companies like DHL Express offers a variety of online tools, portals and guides to help you simplify your shipping processes. If you have several parcels, repetitive tasks that consume a lot of time will be made easy with the automated system. This can save you a lot of time and resources. 

DHL Express has developed digital portals such as MyDHL+ and services like On-Demand Delivery that offer easy, reliable and convenient shipping processes. Services such as Same-Day delivery and Saturday delivery allow you to fulfil the specific needs of modern customers who are always on the go.

2. Last-mile delivery tracking in real-time

Real-time tracking systems can help to improve customer satisfaction. According to fleet management statistics provided by G2, implementing real-time last-mile carrier tracking has seen a 54% improvement in customer service. Customers want complete transparency from the brand and this includes being able to track their orders in real-time. 

DHL Express provides Track & Trace services that allow customers to view end-to-end shipments, giving them an overview of their parcel’s location. Businesses can increase transparency and build trust with their customers by offering this service. 

3. Improve your customer’s experience

Unexpected problems can arise when operating an e-commerce store, such as sudden spikes in orders, damaged parcels and requests for scheduled deliveries. Working with a last-mile logistics company can help to minimise the severity of the problem by letting the experts handle all shipping processes without compromising the quality of delivery.

Components of last-mile logistics 

Last-mile delivery is not as straightforward as it seems. Getting involved will help you be in more control of the shipping process. The following sections below will help you understand each element of last-mile logistics.

Dispatch to a fulfilment centre

The first leg of last-mile delivery starts when businesses dispatch the order to a holding centre or warehouse.

In this step, other sub-processes occur. Businesses that use order management systems will have an automated flow for some of these actions. The first step includes figuring out which fulfilment centre to send the parcel to. Among other reasons, the fulfilment centre is chosen based on proximity to the delivery address. Selecting the closest holding centre based on delivery address helps lower the final shipping cost for the customer. 

Leading e-commerce companies like Amazon run chains of fulfilment centres worldwide. For such companies, that is feasible. However, independent merchants have to rely on third parties for fulfilment services since it is cost-effective. 

Forwarding processing 

For international orders, forwarding can be lengthy based on the type of product and customs regulations. Imports and exports must be inspected before they are cleared and delivered to the customer. 

At this stage, the mode of transportation is also decided based on several factors. Safety and handling directives are used to determine the best transport mode and vessel to use. Moreover, the customer can choose the shipping method based on available options. That allows them to select based on factors like costs. Additionally, a courier service can also pick a shipping method based on the type of shipment. It boils down to practicality and flexibility from both sides.

When the package is sent out to the delivery location, the customer will be notified about the dispatch and estimated arrival time. The last leg involves delivery confirmation.

Establishing proof of delivery (POD)

Proof of delivery does what it sounds like — proving that the package has been delivered to the customer. While not all last-mile courier services provide a POD, it is essential and helps provide customers with peace of mind. Benefits of POD include serving as evidence in case disputes, record keeping, and finalising an order. 

Enhance your customer’s experience with DHL Express

Last-mile delivery can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time in the business. Challenges such as tracking, communication, and limited resources can frustrate you. Hence, it is recommended to outsource to last-mile delivery services. 

Besides providing last-mile tracking and flexible shipping options, DHL Express also offers a wide range of on-demand options, such as 24/7 customer services, to ensure your business stays ahead of the curve. Sign up for a DHL Express account and let us handle all your last-mile delivery processes today.