The pandemic has thrown even the most efficient last-mile delivery systems into complete disarray. For most e-commerce businesses last-mile logistics is a significant cost center. Until the pandemic, businesses continued to feed the steep costs that last-mile delivery demanded but the onset of COVID-19 has them pulling the brakes to a screeching halt.
Last-mile Hurdles: The Pandemic Effect
Order fulfillment and last-mile delivery processes have taken a major hit due to the pandemic. The partial closure of airports and sea-ports during the COVID-19 pandemic has made on-time deliveries nearly impossible. This has further added to the woes of shipment carriers as they already struggle to overcome the bottlenecks encountered in last-mile deliveries.
The impact is two-fold for eCommerce businesses. On one hand, getting their orders delivered to shoppers on time has now turned into a pipedream. Angry and frustrated customers abandon their loyalty to the brand. On the other hand, FedEx and UPS have slapped a peak volume surcharge of $.30 per package for residential deliveries. So, eCommerce businesses are now forced to cough up more for shipping.
Jumping over the last-mile hurdle
The need of the hour is to reimagine last-mile logistics. There is a surge in order volume due to a behavioral shift in consumer purchasing decisions. However, inefficient last-mile processes are preventing businesses from maximizing their gain from profits.
Here are a few tips to overcome last-mile challenges during the pandemic:
- Invest in technology: This is almost redundant. Only by unleashing the power of technology can businesses hope to streamline their processes. Whether it is optimizing the scanning or packaging component or creating the perfect “WOW” order delivery moment. Enlist the services of software to improve processes across operations.
- Revisit the delivery estimates: Order delivery estimates have clearly gone out the window. Acknowledge the new normal and publish revised timelines for your orders. Add shipping fees if you are struggling with mounting shipping expenditure.
- Re-negotiate your shipping agreement – The shipping carriers are not honoring your shipping contract. Recently UPS and FedEx revoked the money-back guarantee. With no definite timeline mentioned, this is a cause of concern for your business. While you pay a premium fee for express shipping, you have no way to hold them accountable when they fail. In exchange for void guarantees, shoot for discounted shipping rates with your carrier rep.
- Communicate with shoppers: Establish a relationship with your shoppers. Engage with repeat customers. Constantly seek feedback. Then go on to curate a personalized order delivery experience for your customers.
Fast delivery, precise order tracking, package safety, and convenience have now become the 4 major pillars of last-mile delivery experience. A great last-mile experience ensures customers the visibility and sense of control they expect over their delivery. While COVID-19 has heavily impacted the previously set delivery arrangements and mechanisms, it has brought along a new opportunity to innovate and implement more effective and efficient last-mile delivery solutions.