15 February 2019

Meeting the challenge of ‘last mile’ delivery

As those in the delivery business understand all too well, every consignment moves through a series of supply chain stages before reaching its final destination. Yet, from a customer’s point of view, the only part of the journey that they’re likely to be aware of is the ‘last mile’. This is the part of the delivery process in which the goods travel from a local depot to the safe hands of their new owner. Due to its focal point in consumer consciousness, last mile delivery is generally regarded as the most important phase of the entire operation, and rightly so.

Why is last mile delivery such a challenge?

Last mile delivery is a deceptively simple prospect; it’s very possible for any number of snags to cause delays or mistakes, and for these to impact your profitability – especially now that customers increasingly expect delivery to be free. With multiple packages all destined for different addresses, last mile is notoriously inefficient, and the unstoppable prominence of online retail is only adding to the number of deliveries your drivers are having to make. It’s down to delivery businesses to get more packages delivered in less time, and without passing cost overheads on to the customer.   

Thankfully, technological solutions can ease the logistical complexity of last mile delivery, so with that in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at how Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD) can optimise your business’s last mile.

Open communication between headquarters, customers and drivers

As their goods get closer, customers want to know exactly when to expect them. Thanks to route planning and job scheduling, EPOD software can generate highly accurate delivery windows for your customers but, as any driver will tell you, external factors can all too often disrupt the timetable. It only takes one hold up to knock a whole shift’s job list off schedule – that’s a lot of disappointed customers. However, an EPOD solution can also provide real-time location data and a live comms channel between you and your drivers in the field, via an app running on a smartphone or a dedicated mobile computing device. Your operators back at base can see exactly where your drivers are and what could be holding them up, and can therefore keep your customers in the loop with ETA updates. Or, you can opt to give them access to an EPOD customer portal so that they can track their deliveries themselves.

Clear routes through urban sprawls and country back roads

In most cases, consumer deliveries will be due at a home or work address, and these tend to come with their own pain points. Cities and busy towns can be tricky to navigate and tough to find parking within, especially if a driver has to deliver to an upper floor of a high-rise or locate a particular recipient in a bustling office. On the other hand, rural addresses down miles of country roads can be just as hard and time-consuming to find. 

What drivers need is live maps and routes to follow, which is exactly what they’ll have built in to their mobile EPOD app or handheld device - no need for separate sat-nav technology. Plus, with sight of the same real-time maps at headquarters, you can also pre-empt your drivers to change course if you spot a traffic jam or accident before it becomes a problem for them.

Avoiding the failed delivery ‘blindspot’

Although you can minimise failed deliveries, it’s impossible to eradicate them altogether. What can derail your last mile logistics even more than a failed delivery is the dreaded parcel ‘blindspot’; goods left untracked in vans or warehouses that then cannot be found when customers try to reorganise delivery. Items falling into this limbo often end up being refunded or reordered, both of which create extra costs and admin for your business. With EPOD software though, drivers can immediately log an item as undelivered via their mobile device, which flags it with your team back at base and ensures the item remains in the system for redelivery without delay.

Achieve last mile efficiency with a responsive EPOD system 

Last mile delivery may never be a straightforward task, but EPOD technology can alleviate its complications as much as possible. Optimising last mile delivery for your business can save you money, improve customer service, and help to retain consumer loyalty, so don’t hesitate to find out more about our EPOD solutions today.