Featured in Furniture Today.
The saying goes: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. This is true, especially when it comes to choosing your last-mile delivery service. Simply put, last-mile logistics are the final part of the delivery process. The last-mile phase starts from the distribution center or your store and concludes with delivering the item to the customer.
While it’s easy to see why sales and product creation get the most attention in business operations, last-mile delivery is equally as important. Acquiring customers, driving sales, and innovative product creation means nothing if the final product does not safely and securely get to the end user. With online shopping and ecommerce playing an ever-increasing important role in society’s day-to-day life, combined with the increase in delivery demand during the pandemic, as well as the growing demand for ever faster delivery, selecting the proper last-mile provider is critical to the health of your business.
Benefits of Outsourcing a Last-Mile Delivery Service
When the last-mile delivery process is done right, you can improve and maintain epic levels of customer service. However, if mishandled, you can damage your reputation and potentially lose returning customers. If your company isn’t able to execute your own last-mile deliveries, outsourcing is a great option that has a host of benefits.
Reduced Operations and Financial Costs
Hiring an exceptional delivery service will save you both time spent creating and operating logistical programs and the associated financial costs in the long run. Investing in warehouse space, advanced technology, delivery fleets, insurance, and employees can add a significant financial overhead. By outsourcing to a third-party last-mile delivery service, you can avoid the costs (and potential stresses) of having an in-house delivery system and invest in a company that already has the processes and people in place. These providers excel at helping you develop a program that works best for your business, one that can flex and scale appropriately depending on the situation. Turning your store into a mini distribution center to help overturn stagnant inventory? Not a problem. Adding more markets? Your provider likely has the support, ops, and capacity you need to make it happen without issue.
Third-party last-mile delivery providers are disrupting the traditional delivery industry by building a network of drivers across the nation that have their own pickup trucks, cargo vans, and box trucks. You are likely familiar with the gig economy. One of its greatest strengths is that it allows you to tap into a unique group of vetted, professional drivers and delivery providers that are ready to work. There is significant strain in the supply chain and part of that is due to an ongoing driver shortage. A non-traditional last-mile delivery provider can easily help you overcome that strain and use their own capacity’s vehicles to get your inventory on the road.
Optimal Experience for You and Your Customers
Starting an in-house delivery service from scratch takes time, money, labor, and knowledge. If your company is already firing on all cylinders, you may not have the extra time or finances it takes to start your own delivery service. However, with a third-party last-mile delivery service, you get the streamlined processes, ample experience, and added business knowledge in the industry so you can customize a plan that best suits your preferences. You’ll also have a program that best suits your customers. With a focus on customer-first, time-definite delivery, a third-party provider can ensure that your brand is protected, and your customers are happy.
Factors to Consider in a Last-Mile Delivery Service
If you do decide to outsource, of course, you’ll want to know what services are on offer and what markets they serve, but there are certain other aspects you should consider before selecting your third-party delivery provider.
Meeting Customer Expectations
We cannot deny that demands for faster, more efficient delivery are growing. Conditioned by large, nationwide retailers to expect same-day or next day delivery at low to no cost, today’s customer has come to have certain expectations. And if you can’t meet them, those customers will move on to someone who can. On the flip side, delivery lead times for big and bulky items like furniture and appliances are usually days to weeks out and will be fulfilled within a large window of time on the delivery day. A third-party last-mile delivery provider can help you meet and exceed customer expectations by offering time-definite delivery, on demand. A customer can dictate when they want their item delivered at their convenience, be that tomorrow or next week. No more 4-to-6-hour windows. No more frustrated customers.
When selecting your last-mile delivery service, take note of what kind of technology they use. What warehouse and delivery management systems do they have in place? How do these systems conduct efficient deliveries? What other supporting apps, systems, personnel, or processes does the company utilize to help make the logistics and communication between you and the delivery service clear and pain-free?
Nowadays, consumers not only want to see the estimated date of their delivery, but they also want to see when the item leaves the warehouse, where it currently is in transit, and the estimated time frame for arrival at their home. Detailed real-time tracking methods, along with direct communication with the delivery driver, can help boost customer service ratings, as well as decrease customer complaints. While delays are sometimes inevitable, if a consumer has been able to track their delivery and is notified that there may be a delay, they will likely be more forgiving. On the flip side of this situation, a customer with no communication whatsoever about their delivery’s whereabouts is more likely to publicly pose a complaint online or on your company’s social media platforms.
White Glove Services
Who doesn’t like extras? Last-mile delivery companies that offer the creme de la creme of services can help your business run more smoothly and may garner more positive experiences on the consumer’s end. We’ve all had a weighty package dropped outside the home, maybe on the driveway, and then struggled to get it inside, up the stairs, and to whatever location it needs to be. It’s not a great experience.
As the name may suggest, white glove service goes above and beyond simple transport and delivery to the threshold. White glove can include anything from bringing a product in-house to the room of choice, assembly, and hauling away old products or excess packing materials. If you own a business with large or fragile products that require extra care, a last-mile delivery service that provides white glove service may significantly benefit you and your delivery process.
Support from a True Partner
Perhaps nothing is more important than feeling that you are not alone as you embark on a new process or program. Seek a provider that offers committed support for you and your team. Be it readily available tech and ops support, regular reporting and business reviews, or a key account manager to handle day to day details, you should feel you have a true partner that is dedicated to your success. Regular communication ensures that you can trust your provider to pivot quickly to correct hiccups, celebrate wins with you, and that you can grow together as a team.
Similar to reviewing rates, you should always check your references before deciding on a last-mile delivery service. During your research and selection process, talk with peers, other retailers, or clients in your network and ask about their experience, whether it was good or bad. By getting a second (or third) opinion, you can avoid less-than-spectacular experiences and feel more confident in your choice of a last-mile delivery partner.
Ready to Outsource?
Outsourcing a third-party delivery vendor has its perks, which is why it’s important to choose a company that aligns with your business needs. When selecting a last-mile delivery service, look to a provider, like Dolly, that has the services, technology, manpower, and support to provide top-of-the-line, gold-standard service.
Jay Sackos is an experienced supply chain sales professional dedicated to exchanging value through creative, client-centric solutions. Jay is a natural leader who empowers teammates through clear communication and collaborative objective setting while fostering accountability.