Increasing Your Operation's Efficiency with Technology

How to Succeed in the Last Mile

How to Succeed in the Last Mile

The need for smarter, more dependable deliveries is one of the side effects of ecommerce's rising popularity.

With 86% consumers associating delivery to their entire shopping experience, it’s time to put the technology in place to help you leverage your deliveries as a unique selling point and get ahead of the competition.

Executive Summary

E-Commerce and The Current Last-Mile Paradigm

Technology Tools for Driving Business Further

Server vs. SaaS Route Planning - A Comparison

Conclusion

Expand Section

Despite the fact that 86% of logistics decision makers agree that technology is the best way to increase efficiency and keep costs under control,* it’s not uncommon for some well-run businesses to still rely on old fashioned methods of tracking critical aspects of business with pen, paper, and diligence. There’s comfort in “doing things the way they’ve always been done”...but there lies great opportunity in increasing efficiency through technology.

86%
of logistics decision makers agree that technology is the best way to increase efficiency & keep costs under control.* *Source: 2016 study by Freightos

Immediate benefits are seen when necessary business functions like accounting, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and route planning can all be streamlined with SaaS-based solutions.

While it’s been easy to adapt to technology in our personal lives (iPhones, Alexa, smart tvs, Nest, Tesla, etc.) - it’s when our work processes are at risk of change that we are most frightful. It’s important to embrace technology not run from it.

Can you imagine running a business without a computer? In today’s world, it’s virtually impossible. We’ve evolved so many of our simple daily workflows, like the modern calendar. Just 20 years ago, most business professionals relied on Day Planners and spiral-bound ‘At-A-Glance’ paper-based calendars that had to be carried around and updated with handwriting whenever something needed to be rescheduled or canceled.

Today we use cloud services like Google Calendar and Calendly for instant access to calendars across all devices and receive dynamic updates too. Meetings can be synced to a smartwatch, supported with video chat, and recorded for on-demand viewing. Let’s take a look at some examples of how technology has changed some of our everyday items.

Your customers and employees are also expecting you to move towards adopting technology to help:

Deliver dependable Work smarter Facilitate positive brand experience Reduce friction Improve communication
Keep costs down Empower your workers Innovate your business Innovate your business
Are you ready to make the investment
to enhance your last mile deliveries?

Technology has completely upended the traditional retail exchange of money for goods. Brick-and-mortar shops who provide everything from appliances to alcoholic beverages have to constantly evaluate their approach because consumer behavior is changing so rapidly. With access to business reviews, social media pages, and vast variety of sellers, the convenience in shopping online has drastically transformed our world along with consumers delivery expectations.

Before, consumers needed to make the trip to the store and they controlled the selection, the purchase, and delivery. Now, they expect an enhanced online experience.

What’s expected of businesses?

Plan on-demand
Accept time-window requests
Offer free delivery
Personalize the experience

When a customer clicks ‘buy’ online, they want to be kept in the loop about everything related to their shipment, and they want updates in real time.

Are you prepared for the continued growth of delivery demands? A compound 20% annual e-commerce growth rate from 2018 - 2023 will more than double goods deliveries (by a factor of 2.5) in 5 years. Without changes, this may double delivery trips.*

This raises the question:

How do we adapt to online shoppers expectations?
Through technology that helps you:

The most successful businesses in the new last-mile paradigm will be companies who are able to devise methods of delivering goods faster and with maximum transparency for the consumer. This can’t be done by one person, however, and in a later section of this ebook, we’ll look at technologies that can be leveraged to help assist companies who want a last-mile efficiency edge without having to reinvent the wheel for themselves.

We know that demand for last-mile services has increased up to this point, and for businesses to thrive in this new retail climate, embracing technology to truly own the customer experience will be necessary. A full 2/3rds of last-mile service demand is coming from B2C customers, underscoring the need for businesses who sell direct to consumers to stay ahead of the curve if they want to thrive. This isn’t to say that the B2B last-mile delivery segment isn’t worth paying attention to — quite the contrary. There is a general consensus that growth within both B2C and B2B segments is expected in the near future. The two worlds will continue to merge as consumer’s expectations are now expected at the office as well.

New Challenges, New Opportunities

When the retail consumer interacts with businesses online to make a purchase, there’s much that has been done to enhance the virtual purchasing experience. There have been valiant efforts like the use of chatbots, virtual assistants, and cartoonish avatars to try to add a unique, personal ingredient in the online buying process. In fact, some retailers are leveraging Virtual Reality to bring the “in person experience” online. Creating a personalized approach to doing business will continue to be a critical component of the overall online transaction.

Bringing the in-person experience to the digital world:

Sephora allows shoppers to test cosmetics with an image of their face so they can see how different cosmetics might look based on their complexion.

Lowe’s displays how paint colors will appear on any wall/image, making it easier to commit to a purchase when shopping from home.

Ikea Place makes your vision a reality. Scroll through the catalog and place chairs, beds or tables right in the image - you’ll know immediately if the item fits the space and will rotate the image to show how any angle of your home.

Interestingly, these efforts at enhancing the online buying experience are equally as important as optimizing the person-to-person interaction that happens when a physical package is delivered to a paying customer. With this, there is both a new challenge and a new opportunity for businesses operating in the last mile. There is a chance to enhance the customer experience by investing in every aspect of the delivery; capitalizing on this will yield higher customer satisfaction ratings, more repeat business, and less customer defection.

It’s not just the physical interaction that a customer has with a delivery person that should be optimized. There are many more aspects of the last mile order fulfillment paradigm that offer unique chances to give the customer more in terms of convenience and choice. These aspects include:

  • Full Visibility (transit status, real-time map locations, etc)
  • Delivery Notifications
  • Returns
  • Delivery Time Selections
  • Installation Services
  • Packaging Removal
  • Recycling Old/Replaced Products
  • Capturing Customer Feedback
Did You Know?
Last Mile Businesses can
Increase Delivery Efficiency
by 30% with Route
Planning Software.

It’s not so much that these will be ‘nice to have’ features of last mile delivery. Rather, these will eventually become absolutely necessary in order to maintain integrity of the entire order fulfillment process. And, because much of what happens within the last mile can be used for analytics that drive other functions of a business, there will continue to be more investments in each of these areas as business.

In the next section, we’re going to take a look at a few technology-based tools that small- and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of to bring their revenues to the next level. While not all of the applications we’ll discuss may be applicable to you or your business, there are some common lessons to be learned in the areas of efficiency, communications, transparency and integration of technology.

By now you should be fairly well convinced that for a business to prosper in the B2B and B2C space, adoption of technology is a must. In fact, choosing to rely on outdated means of managing key business functions will only result in a business as a whole becoming itself outdated and, eventually, completely irrelevant. Sometimes there are technological developments that spell certain disaster for some companies, as was the case with Blockbuster movie rental stores. In that scenario, the development of easily accessible means of obtaining and duplicating media was the death knell of literally hundreds of retail locations and thousands of retail jobs.

However, within the new ecommerce paradigm, the tables are completely turned. Instead of technology being a threat, it is a force to be bridled and used for the distinct purpose of streamlining businesses in every way possible. In order to do so, a variety of tools should be evaluated for their usefulness for any business wanting to truly get ahead in a global economy.

To that end, here are a few tools that can be used to propel
business to the next level of productivity and profitability:
Enable better communication

Twilio makes it possible to trigger real-time alerts to customers, alerting them on driver arrival times, delays, and other critical updates.

WorkWave Route Manager GPS provides your operations with visibility on driver location 24/7.

Increase on-time arrivals

What3Words can enable a precise delivery location to help avoid your driver getting lost.

WorkWave Route Manager GPS plans an optimal, efficient and realistic route plan that will help your drivers stay on schedule.

Overcoming staffing challenges

AngelList looking to hire more drivers? Check out this staffing site for new talent in the last mile space.

Crowdsourcing apps are available to you when your resources are at max capacity - so now you never have to turn down business. (Check out Roadie or Sherpa)

Preparing for the future

New modes of transportation are expected to become mainstream by 2020. Are you preparing for the availability for drone delivery, autonomous ground vehicles (AGV), and droids?

Blockchain technology (virtual currency) will become mainstream, and more businesses will accept cryptocurrency as form of payment.

If you operate in the last-mile space, you want a route management solution that isn’t too complicated for users to adopt but is controllable and scalable if need be. To accomplish this, the options generally fall into two categories:

Self-hosted and self-managed, standalone software
Negatives:
  • No guarentees that the software will work
  • Have to install the software yourself
  • No technical or customer support available
  • Costly to hire a consultant or outsource the management of the software entirely
  • Time sensitive with significant downtime
  • Difficult to scale
Positives:
  • Control and service
  • 24/7 support and access to the servers
Software as a service (SaaS)
Negatives:
  • No known negatives of SaaS
Positives:
  • Mitigation of up-front and overall investment costs
  • Faster implementation
  • Ongoing cost containment and predictability
  • IT administration isn’t as taxing on internal resources
  • Business owners are free to focus on core competencies
  • Easier access for mobile devices and multiple locations
  • Frequent updates that sync automatically
  • Current maps

When compared against a standalone solution, Software as a Service route management solutions truly shine.

But, the benefits don’t stop there. Server-based routing solutions can come with hefty initial costs , hidden maintenance expenses, implementation fees, and long implementations. Also, by relying on the resources of a third-party SaaS provider for route optimization, you’re putting their computing power to work for you. That means you don’t have to spend big bucks on expensive equipment.

Manual, painful, &
lots of guesswork
Call drivers with
any changes
No idea how your
team is performing
Looking for ways to
increase efficiency
Automated & stress
free route plans
Dispatch in real-time
to the mobile app
Stay connected via
GPS tracking
A more efficient &
successful company

The decision to partner with SaaS routing solution should be made only after conducting plenty of due diligence while also defining your needs. Evaluating the major players within the industry should involve company history, product breadth, cost comparisons, and a proven track record.

SaaS solutions stand out as the best way to truly increase efficiency with technology without paying exorbitant fees or being tied to a system that isn’t easy to use - making its benefits affordable and available to businesses of all sizes. What’s more, the time time it takes to begin realizing tangible return on investment is uncommonly short, with full deployments taking as little as one day to complete.

Learn how you can get started with an easy-to-use, powerful route planning solution. You can increase your route's efficiency by 30% with WorkWave Route Manager powering your operations. Schedule a demo today or watch this short video.

Ready to take your business to the next level?

Learn how you can connect and simplify your business with WorkWave Route Manager.