Technology is the driving force behind change in nearly every industry, and parcel delivery is no different. New one-day services by Amazon, to Target point to an intensified pace of innovation. In order to remain competitive in this ever-expanding, digitized market, businesses will need to move fast. Parcel delivery is no exception: parcel and 3PL logistics providers need to focus their resources on optimization across the last mile.
The question is, where to start?
Before launching any delivery optimization process, businesses need to understand where their gaps in efficiency lie, and what changes will impact last mile profitability the most.
6 Steps to Last Mile Delivery Optimization
There are 6 steps that make up a universal process for these companies, from the moment orders are received to the moment packages are delivered.
Input Orders and Tasks into a Centralized System
As with most things, the first step is the most important. While many parcel delivery companies have different processes for how orders and delivery tasks get into their system, it’s important that they all end up in a centralized system and those deliveries that are going to be assigned to drivers (as opposed to outsourced to a third party) are clearly marked.
With the right technology, this can be done by uploading a CSV, or using an API.
Optimize Task Dispatch and Routes
With the orders and tasks uploaded into the system, it’s critical that the assignment of those tasks takes in to account the most optimal routes. For a large company that does thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of deliveries per month, automating this process with good dispatch software is the only scalable option.
Inputting tasks and having them assigned at the beginning of the day, prior to drivers beginning their shifts, allows for drivers to see their entire routes before they come to work.
Sort Out Parcels Marked for Local Delivery
Third party logistics companies often times have local partners that handle their last mile deliveries, however there are a portion of those deliveries that are done by the company themselves. These items must be efficiently sorted out from the rest of the packages so that they can be loaded on to the right trucks to get to their final destination.
This requires special bar codes that would be scanned in order to identify which packages are being delivered locally and which are being assigned externally.
Scan All Items Prior to Loading Them
Having full supply chain visibility requires that the last mile not be a link in the chain in which you become blind. In order to optimize last mile delivery operations for parcel deliveries, all items need to be scanned prior to going on trucks. This way, a central system can track exactly which items are on which trucks and where they are on their routes.
Customer Last Mile Visibility and Engagement
It’s been said that the number one driver of logistics innovation today is visibility. In this case, visibility can mean both internal (visibility over the supply chain – as mentioned above) or the visibility a customer has over their delivery.
In the age of Uber, customers expect a level of visibility that was once not available. The critical aspects of this kind of experience include a real-time map visible via mobile phone that allows the customer to watch the driver as they are on their route, knowing exactly when they will arrive.
Within this model, engagement is also key. Being able to communicate directly with the driver, leave messages such as “don’t ring the doorbell” will decrease friction and make it less likely that a customer
Have a Solid Proof of Delivery Process
With such a high volume of deliveries, it’s important that verifiable records are kept when a delivery is made. That includes requiring a driver get a signature and scanning of a bar code prior to leaving the location of the delivery. That information then is sent to a central system and logged. If, at any point, the customer makes a claim that the item was not delivered, the company has proof.