The last mile never ceases to surprise us. Technology has unlocked efficiencies empowering businesses to deliver in minutes and not days. It is helping expand serviceability by ensuring businesses can leverage multi-courier networks to their full potential. It ensures greater visibility of delivery operations. It’s empowering consumers to craft the kind of delivery experience they want. So, what’s next? To answer this, we have prepared a list of eight critical innovations that will take the last-mile experience for end customers and your delivery partners to the next level.
In the taxi aggregation space, Uber redefined ETA. Nine out of ten times, our cabs really ‘arrive.’ Retailers, eCommerce and logistics companies will need to offer a similar experience where an end customer knows exactly when her package will arrive, allowing her to prepare accordingly.
Thanks to fantastic innovations driven by the food delivery industry, your end customers today are used to seeing orders progress live on a map. This significantly reduces the time a courier spends at the doorstep as customers are ready to receive their orders. Ecommerce and logistics service providers who can mirror this phenomenon will realize incredible last-mile efficiencies.
Cash on delivery (COD) remains popular in many parts of the world. But your end customers are also looking for other payment options. Brands and courier providers must be versatile enough to immediately convert COD into a digital payment at the customer’s doorstep. Then surfaces the need to offer flexible delivery options by focusing on a customer’s convenience. Based on whether a customer wants to receive her order in the morning, between specific hours, at another address and so on, delivery stakeholders will need to reorganize their supply chain and routes to ensure delivery promises are kept.
First, we must ask what businesses are trying to solve by enriching digital customer experiences. Let’s consider improving CX by boosting first-attempt success rates. We see many of our customers collecting digital addresses from consumers using conversational commerce. To create a highly accurate digital address ecosystem utilizing this information, retailers, eCommerce companies, and courier providers can drive seamless integrations with national address databases.
It’s interesting to see eCommerce companies getting into logistics and logistics companies partnering with other 3PLs to deliver delightful customer experiences. This is creating a thriving ecosystem. This ecosystem needs to capitalize on the demand opportunity in the market by focusing on customer wants. They want seamless deliveries wherever they are. So, delivery stakeholders need to consider expanding network reach in an asset-light manner to cater to more customers.
Collaborating with ecosystem partners to expand across tier II and III cities and towns and reduce costs while ensuring a superior experience will be critical. Technology will enable businesses to gain control and visibility in a truly integrated ecosystem. It’ll create a digital layer that will help ensure end customers get a unified delivery experience.
Using AI and real-time analytics to enhance first and last-mile performance will take center stage. When collaborating with multiple logistics partners, businesses need to decide the best partner for a particular job, area, type of shipment, time of the week/day and so on. Using real-time data, your AI engine should recommend a partner to collaborate with and build network resilience in case of disruptions.
Couriers and riders are the final faces to end customers in the physical world. Hence, it’s crucial to solve for their experiences. This means completely digitizing onboardings and background checks. A key to superior delivery performance is dynamic incentivization. Just like end customers, your partners desire instant gratification. Automatically linking performance with payouts in real-time is a great way to achieve this. It’s vital that courier partners feel recognized and have societal value. This is where we see gamification–creating leaderboards and giving digital medals/badges–go a long way.
Businesses can easily move to a world of predictive and prescriptive analytics using all the logistics and delivery-related data fed into their systems. Today, we have dashboards that show us what’s going on in real-time, but can we get predictive and accurately know what is likely to go wrong? Can we get prescriptive and trust our systems to guide us on what should be done and what can be improved? Using predictive analytics, we can create dynamic thresholds and incidents. Let’s say a system knows a pickup will get missed. Can it dynamically reassign it to someone else and keep the customer experience intact? Yes, it’s possible!
The last mile is costly and customer sensitive. Continuous innovation driven by disruptive technologies like generative AI, predictive and prescriptive Intelligence, real-time analytics, among others, will keep stretching the limits of your logistics operations and strategies.