Last mile delivery is the final stage of the delivery process where a product is distributed from a business to its consumers. The process of getting the product from the transportation hub i.e., the warehouse, to its final destination, usually residences, can sometimes be the most costly and time-consuming part of the process.
We are living in the age of e-commerce, wherein the last mile delivery process is expected to be quick. With time, the focus on retail shopping has shifted from physical stores to online stores. With this trend expected to continue, the focus on last mile delivery is only going to grow in the coming years.
Read on to find the current trends in the last mile delivery process and the challenges that have to be overcome.
How Does Technology Assist In Last Mile Delivery Process?
Most companies adopt technology to improve express, 1-day or 2-to-3-day deliveries. Here’s how technology assists at every stage of the last mile delivery process:
Registering orders: Orders from e-commerce marketplaces or fulfilment centres are entered in a centralised system. The delivery service and the end receiver are provided with a tracking ID for the order generated by the system.
Order arrivals: Orders are picked up from suppliers and arrive at the transportation hub. From here, it is important to ensure that the orders reach the customers with minimal delay.
Designating orders: The process of sorting orders according to the delivery address and assigning the right delivery agents helps reduce time and costs in the delivery process. Robots and conveyor belts are used to improve this process.
Loading orders: It is common practice to scan the parcels before they are loaded into the vehicles and dispatched. This sends an automated update to the end customer to expect an order delivery that day.
Delivering orders: Once the product reaches the end user’s address, the delivery agent can update the tracking status immediately for verification and future reference.
Challenges Faced In The Last Mile Delivery Process
During the pandemic, the consumer base for online retail increased exponentially. However, the lockdown also laid bare some gaps and weaknesses in the current last mile delivery process. Here are some of the challenges arising from new last mile delivery trends in Singapore.
High delivery costs
The delivery costs are largely expected to be borne by the seller and the packaging platform. However, delivery costs are also increasing regularly. This can hurt business revenue.
Cutting down delivery time
The demand for faster delivery is growing as technology improves. However, the pandemic exposed a few gaps in the system. For example, the last mile delivery process broke down when the government imposed a partial lockdown in Singapore. This led to delayed deliveries, even for some essential products. People are willing to spend a certain sum to speed up their deliveries but that extra amount might not be sufficient to cover the delivery cost.
Special delivery requests
Certain customers might require a delivery during a fixed period of the day. However, adjusting the delivery schedule during the day might delay the delivery agent in fulfilling other orders. There is a need for flexible delivery processes to meet special delivery requests.
Lack of transparency while tracking
End customers are increasingly expecting improved visibility into end-to-end order tracking. Often, it can be difficult to find real-time updates or access customer support during the delivery process. For example, GPS tracking for an order or chat support on apps like WhatsApp and Facebook, can help end customers stay updated regarding their orders.
How To Improve Last Mile Delivery Process?
No matter what the new trends or challenges are, it comes down to one detail — a cost-and-time-efficient delivery system. Here are some of the technological solutions for the last mile delivery process:
Quick order fulfilment: Using AI (artificial intelligence) and bots can help in automating every aspect of the last mile delivery process. It can help sort orders in the warehouse and assign the right delivery personnel to streamline the process.
Technology-aided special deliveries: A digital dashboard can help delivery agents prioritize orders according to time slots. It can also help them avoid traffic and choose the fastest routes to cut down delivery times all along the way.
Greater visibility while tracking the order: 24/7 order tracking can help customers get a clearer idea about their order status and can also allow them the option to pick their orders from delivery centres themselves.
Apart from these improvement measures, here are some of the new practices and technological innovations that are already being implemented in the last mile delivery process today.
More delivery windows: To cope with the rising demand from e-commerce, delivery companies are increasing time slots to fit the customers’ needs. This will offer customers more flexibility to choose the delivery time slot that suits them best.
Delivery by driverless vehicles: Drones or driverless vehicles can be the future of the last mile delivery process. Today, they are still used on a relatively small scale, but more and more companies are slowly turning to autonomous delivery vehicles.
We, at SDR Logistics, can improve your supply chain management by keeping it up to date with the latest technologies and innovations. Our focus lies in maximising the time and cost efficiencies for our customers while ensuring high-quality logistics service for the end consumer.