The eCommerce revolution has transformed the traditional supply chain. From speed of delivery, to increased consumer expectations, this transformation has mostly been driven by a more empowered consumer. However, this change doesn’t come without challenges, mostly in the final mile of delivery.
It should be no surprise to logistics professionals that final mile demand is in high demand due to Covid. This last leg on the delivery process is usually the most challenging and expensive. So much so that few carriers offer it. The biggest challenges are the requirement for specialized equipment, the need for additional personnel, and the time intensive characteristics of residential deliveries.
Cost is not a new issue but new expectations, particularly regarding same-day/on-demand delivery has put a greater strain on budgets. Additionally, when it comes to online retail, there can be inconsistent demand, such as increasingly higher volumes of purchases during holidays. The good news is people under 30 seem to be less concerned with cost than previous generations. In today’s new normal a new market has emerged.
Efficiency Is The Key
As with other new challenges, customers have been the major driving force for increased efficiency. Among other reasons, the requirement for increased efficiency is predicated on the desire for faster deliveries. On-demand has penetrated every industry and business, and online retail is no exception.
Efficiency can be increased throughout the supply chain, but when talking about last mile delivery solutions, especially with regards to same-day/on-demand delivery, technology is the key. Things such as automatically dispatching to the right delivery person, in the right area, at the right time can help increase efficiency and decrease delivery time.
A no contact delivery experience helps streamline efficiency and cut costs. One of the greatest drain on efficiency during last mile delivery is dealing with customer inquiries about their delivery and requests about how it should be delivered.
Creating a no contact delivery process requires technology that enables open communication between the customer and the delivery person, as well as full visibility over their deliveries. By doing so, you lessen the likelihood of a customer calling in and having to deal with a customer service representative, who will then have to spend valuable time to find information about the delivery. Several years ago I noticed the cover of a national magazine depictinc a consumer at a kiosk. The caption read “How May You Help You”. We are in a do it yourself world. This is plain to see from the incredibly annoying automated telephone systems to the cable company’s self diagnostics procedures to the simple online ordering protocols of every major retailer. I have screamed like a maniac at my phone while navigating some automated telephone systems. The online ordering I’m actually a fan of. The rest can be incredibly impersonal. Major retailers simply do not want you calling them. It’s too expensive. Just try to find a telephone number on a major retailers website-you likely wont. I’m reminded of the time I cursed out Siri while driving because she couldn’t find my destination. Her response was “I would talk to you like that Mike”. I actually felt bad I had upset her digital personality for a few minutes.
What Will The Future Of Final Mile Look Like
Robots and electric vehicles will be prevalent. We will see unmanned deliveries by robots and drones, unmanned pack-stations for pick-up and delivery at offices, stores and in public transport stations. Robotic implementation downstream will impact every facet of the transportation, handling and distribution of goods in the future. Most of it is here already.
Operational excellence is key in the integral door-to-door supply chain. Robot Implementation is also necessary to address the growing driver shortages and changing labor market conditions.
Crowd Sourcing, IOT and Smart Route Planning
Crowd sourcing will be popular for the final mile delivery. Ride share drivers, grocery delivery services and the like are a plentiful and efficient means of achieving reliable and cost effective delivery. Drones of course will play a role of some sort that has yet to be determined. Size and weight restrictions, safety concerns and government regulations will likely limit their utility. IOT and AI will likely play a big part in daily and repetitive robotic delivery by unmanned electric vehicles. A typical example is the mailman. He or she travels the exact same route daily. This is ideal for Artificial Intelligence. A robot can be programmed the route and AI will help it learn the details; terrain challenges, obstacles to avoid and the like, every day. Eventually the robot will learn the optimum path. The UPS and FedEx drivers are next. Smart Route planning will add to the overall efficiencies by being plugged in the real time traffic patterns and routes will be automatically and constantly optimized without the aid of a human.
Clean air, zero carbon and public safety initiatives will also be among the goals of the future final mile delivery modes. The next ten years should be fascinating.
High school and college age people would be well advised to consider these trends when considering a career path.
Stay Safe Everyone.
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