Reimagining Last-mile Delivery During Covid-19

Rethinking your final mile during coronavirus-03

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 and its rapid spread regardless of borders impacted our societies and resources, markets, and industries tremendously. 

As the demand for deliveries has spiked due to stay at home orders, the system is definitely feeling the strain even though supply chains and carriers are keeping the global economy functional amid the trying times. 

At this moment, one thing is clear: businesses need to reevaluate their strategies, models, and the resilience of their supply chain, as well as innovate to stay connected with clients. 

Due to stricter movement measures and the closure of non-essential shops and restaurants, there has been an unprecedented rise in the demand for essential items with a gradual decrease in physical shopping for many consumer goods. 

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Hence, retailers have largely taken to incentivizing customers to purchase online and relieving the congestion from the stores overburdening the last-mile delivery system. 

Importance of last-mile delivery during the pandemic 

The challenge for eCommerce business when it comes to customer satisfaction is unique since you may not directly interact with the customers at all throughout the buying process. Hence, tangible aspects of your business become crucial- delivery being the most important among them. It is a key indicator of the last-mile delivery efficiency of any eCommerce business. Read more on shipping costs optimization during the pandemic.

With the novel coronavirus spiraling out of control, businesses across the world are feeling the pressure. A shipping delay will affect your relationship with the customers and also destroy the chance for repeat sales. Thanks to the seeding of online reviews and rating sites, dissatisfied customers’ voices will be heard loud and clear.

Therefore, adherence to the delivery date and promise time is highly significant to the sustenance of eCommerce companies. And those who fail to meet the promised delivery date especially during this crisis will fail to succeed.

Contactless and flexible delivery option 

Contactless delivery is the latest retail tech buzzword owing to the ongoing pandemic. Many fresh meal delivery companies or direct from store industries are rolling out the ability for shoppers to opt for contactless delivery. Brick and mortar stores are also following suit- amazon’s latest innovations are prescient. They include systems like the front door and in-car delivery, home automation, and unattended safe locker delivery in key locations. These ensure security while enhancing flexibility for shoppers and durability if last-mile delivery personnel are unable to work. 

Think outside the box 

Now is the time to reevaluate what your business needs are as we adapt to this new normal. Especially when shopper expectations may change for good when they experience agile and flexible order-delivery options. You need to carefully retool your supply chain strategy, carrier relationships, and information technology integrations. 

This is part of preparing for any kind of eventuality be it a pandemic or something positive like unexpected sales growth. 

Manage the demand 

Enforced border controls across the globe have slowed down international commerce, leaving businesses in shortage of supply while the demand steadily rises to create several delays in delivery. The most significant change is probably felt in pantry items and groceries. Supermarkets struggle to meet high demands. A huge limitation in delivery capacity dictated by the lack of delivery personnel is challenging to overcome

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The on-demand model was the first essential sign of the fast-moving economy challenges but the pandemic has multiplied these. Businesses need to have digital flexibility and on-demand operations in place. Incorporating automated systems that can help onboard drivers and adjust their capacity in order to cater to the unbalance in demand is also critical. 

Delivery experience is a priority for carriers and retailers 

Even before the outbreak of the virus, negative delivery experiences were a menacing source of concern for retailers’ reputation. Every business strives to meet customer’s expectations and delivery requirements. These expectations, fortunately, are pretty simple- orders must arrive on time and be shipped accurately. Companies struggling to meet deadlines upstream in their supply chain, however, can find this extremely challenging. 

Consistent problems with poor OTD performance impacts more than customers. They can cause issues that will affect many areas of a company’s supply chain including avoidable expedited shipping costs, production delays due to material shortages, and being overwhelmed with mounting customer complaints. 

On-time delivery is important now more than ever. The present circumstance has shifted the attention of the carriers and retailers forcing them to drastically adapt their last-mile delivery operations.

To have a real business impact, the level of customer satisfaction needs to be adequately maintained now, and even after the situation is normalized: this is a difficult feat to achieve without effective feedback and communication system. 

A quick checklist to retain customers during the pandemic

Additional last mile strategies that retailers can use during peak demand: 

  • Find improved ways to consolidate the shipments leaving the warehouse. 
  • Improve the packaging or cube utilization of packaging. 
  • Enhance delivery density and decrease the reliance on shipping to residences by shipping to alternate retail pickup points. 
  • Route optimization ensures that different vans do not travel on the same street on the same day.
  • Visibility over the entire process helps you anticipate any issue and allows for prompt solutions like reallocation rounds, communicating with drivers and clients, and adding or removing stops. 

Online consumers will continue to demand more flexible, transparent, and faster, greener deliveries. Investing in software like AuditShipment allows for real-time tracking and shipping cost optimization and handles delivery exceptions proactively to ensure you are doing everything you can to adapt to the new normal of customer expectations.

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