5 December 2016

The importance of the final mile

Oopsie daisy, we did it again

The world is full of little silly things.

For instance, why do we say oopsie daisy when we fall over?

And why do we say sorry for literally everything?

A lot of it’s because it’s engrained in our culture or heritage. It’s traditional and something that we’ve always done so often it’s a case of, why change now?

The logistics world isn’t much different. We know many businesses are also doing silly little things and it’s because that’s how they’ve always done things. Traditional yes, but unfortunately many don’t realise the impact it’s having on their bottom line. The biggest mistake of them all? Ignoring the importance of the final mile.

Why are so many brands then still ignoring the final mile?

It is, after all, likely to be the only part that the customer actually sees of the purchase process. And the truth is, even if you’ve invested in state of the art new website and have a fantastic product, your customer won’t care if you can’t offer them a range of delivery options and deliver their goods to them at a time and in a manner that they want.

So what do people want?

It goes without saying that these days, people want convenience and choice. Delivery options must suit their lifestyles and customers are also demanding more control than ever. What has been the main cause? The role of e-commerce particularly, which has transformed the ‘traditional’ supply chain, but also increased the complexity of reverse logistics and placed more importance on warehouse management and inventory.

A lot of change is required, and, in a relatively short amount of time. This is quite unusual as things have been very traditional and unchanged until quite recently. But those brands who don’t get their supply chain in order, will leave themselves exposed to serious risk for the future.

What else has changed?

The changes have also made things an increasingly competitive place, as others within your industry look to create solutions that make the whole customer experience even easier and more convenient. And as e-commerce B2C brands rapidly update their processes to meet the ever-demanding needs of their customer-base, this expectation for B2B brands to match this standard is growing increasingly important. This however, is often easier said than done.

Why is it so hard to manage?

The final mile is becoming increasingly difficult for many businesses to manage because of the growing complexities demanded by consumers. And, because the majority of the cost for shipping is attributed to the final mile.

Customers also now want to receive the same brand experience across every touchpoint. That means if you have a high-tech, friendly or efficient website, customers expect the same efficiencies when they pick up the phone to you, or when they track their parcel after placing an order. In short, improvements anywhere in the sales journey (by you or your competitor) is pushing up expectation for the final mile (arguably more so, than if your website wasn’t up to scratch), and in most cases it’s really hard to keep up!

The final mile is no doubt a crucial part of the logistics process but when businesses look to set up flexible, cost-efficient and effective supply chain solutions, they do not always have the expertise, experience or infrastructure to deliver the very best solution. Throw into the mix difficulties with international deliveries, customs, and perishable goods and things get difficult. Get it wrong though, and you can lose a customer for a lifetime.

What’s the solution?

Flexibility! Do you have the flexibility to meet orders quickly, whenever and however they are placed? Do you have complete control of your deliveries – when and how they are made, and by whom? Can you scale up or scale down according to shipment volumes? Do you have the right facilities and infrastructure to streamline processes for speedy returns?

As the importance of final mile continues to grow the answers to these questions will be difference between make and break for the future.

Whether it’s regular, next day, timed or specialist deliveries, UK or international, we can help make the last mile delivery experience a better one. Because that’s what we do. To find out more about our solutions and our unique approach to logistics, why not read about our family of solutions?