Blog: How to Select the Right Last Mile Delivery Service for Bulky Retailers
Through Jay Sackos, vice president of Cart
The saying goes: it’s not how you start, it’s how you end. This is true, especially when it comes to choosing your last mile delivery service. Simply put, last mile logistics is the last part of the delivery process. The last mile phase starts from the fulfillment center or your store and ends with the item being delivered to the customer.
While it’s easy to see why sales and product creation receive the most attention in business operations, last mile delivery is just as important. Acquiring customers, driving sales and creating innovative products means nothing if the end product does not reach the end user safely.
With online shopping and e-commerce playing an increasingly important role in the daily life of society, combined with the increase in the demand for delivery during the pandemic, as well as the growing demand for ever faster delivery , selecting the right last mile supplier 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 mismanaged, you can damage your reputation and potentially lose loyal customers. If your business is unable to perform your own last mile deliveries, outsourcing is a great option with many benefits.
Reduced operations and financial costs
Hiring an exceptional delivery service will save you both the time spent creating and operating logistics programs and the associated financial costs in the long run. Investing in warehouse space, advanced technology, delivery fleets, insurance, and employees can add significant overhead costs.
By outsourcing to a third-party last mile delivery service, you can avoid the costs (and potential constraints) of having an in-house delivery system and invest in a business 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 be flexible and scalable as appropriate as the situation arises.
Turning your store into a mini distribution center to help reverse stagnant inventory? No problem. Add more markets? Your vendor likely has the support, operations, and capacity you need to make this happen without a hitch.
Third-party last mile delivery providers are disrupting the traditional delivery industry by creating a network of drivers across the country who have their own vans, vans and box trucks. You are probably familiar with the economics of concerts. One of its greatest strengths is that it allows you to tap into a unique group of approved and ready to work professional drivers and delivery providers.
There is significant tension in the supply chain and this is in part due to an ongoing shortage of drivers. A non-traditional last mile delivery provider can easily help you overcome this tension and use vehicles of their own capacity to get your inventory on the road.
An optimal experience for you and your customers
Starting an in-house delivery service from scratch takes time, money, work and knowledge. If your business is already operating at full capacity, you may not have the time or additional funds to start your own delivery service. However, with a third-party last mile delivery service, you get streamlined processes, extensive experience, and additional business knowledge in the industry so you can customize a plan that best suits your preferences. You will also have a program that best suits your clients. By focusing on priority delivery to the customer and within a set time frame, a third-party vendor can ensure your brand is protected and your customers are happy.
Factors to Consider in a Last Mile Delivery Service
If you decide to outsource, of course, you’ll want to know what services are offered and what markets they serve, but there are some other aspects to consider before selecting your third-party delivery provider.
Meet customer expectations
We cannot deny that the demands for faster and more efficient delivery are increasing. Conditioned by large retailers nationwide to expect same day or next day delivery at low cost or even no charge, 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 other hand, delivery times for bulky and bulky items like furniture and appliances are typically a few days to a few weeks and will be met within a large window of time on the day of delivery. A third-party last mile delivery provider can help you meet and exceed customer expectations by providing time-limited, on-demand delivery. A customer can dictate when they want their item delivered at their convenience, whether it’s tomorrow or next week. No more four to six o’clock windows. No more frustrated customers.
When selecting your last mile delivery service, note the type of technology they use. What warehouse and delivery management systems do they have in place? How do these systems make efficient deliveries? What other applications, systems, personnel, or support processes does the business use to make logistics and communication between you and the delivery department clear and painless?
Consumers these days not only want to see the estimated delivery date, but they also want to see when the item leaves the warehouse, where it is currently in transit, and the estimated time it will arrive at their home. Detailed real-time tracking methods, along with direct communication with the delivery driver, can help increase customer service scores, as well as reduce customer complaints. While delays are sometimes unavoidable, if a consumer has been able to track their delivery and are informed that there may be a delay, they will likely be more forgiving. On the flip side, a customer without any communication about their delivery location is more likely to publicly file a complaint online or on your company’s social media platforms.
White glove services
Who doesn’t like the extras? Last mile delivery companies that offer the crème de la crème of service can help your business run more smoothly and can generate more positive experiences on the consumer side. We all had a heavy package dropped outside the house, maybe in the driveway, and then struggled to get it in, up the stairs, and where it needs to be. It is not a great experience.
As the name suggests, the white glove service goes beyond simple transport and delivery to the doorstep. The white glove can include anything from bringing a product in-house to the room of choice, to assembling and transporting old products or excess packaging material. If you are a business owner with bulky or fragile products that require extra care, a last mile delivery service that provides white glove service can be of great benefit to you and your delivery process.
Support from a true partner
Maybe nothing is more important than feeling like you’re not alone when embarking on a new process or program. Look for a vendor who offers committed support for you and your team. Whether it’s readily available technical and operational support, regular reports and business reviews, or a key account manager to handle day-to-day details, you should feel like have a true partner dedicated to your success. Regular communication ensures that you can trust your supplier to quickly pivot to correct issues, celebrate wins with you, and that you can grow together as a team.
Similar to reviewing tariffs, you should always check your references before choosing a last mile delivery service. During your research and selection process, talk to peers, other retailers, or customers in your network and ask 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 provider has its advantages, which is why it is important to choose a company that matches your business needs. When choosing a last mile delivery service, look for a vendor that has the services, technology, manpower, and support to provide top-notch and benchmark service.