As last mile delivery becomes increasingly complex, retailers may find that providing reliable two-day delivery may win them greater customer appreciation than promising next-day service and missing that window, panelists said at a session today at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)’s Edge conference.
Supply chain challenges at ports and highways are making it increasingly difficult to meet strict delivery schedules, prompting some experts to define the last mile leg as a unique category, separate from the traditional sectors of vehicle routing and schedule and of transportation management system (TMS) software, Gartner’s research vice president for transportation technologies, Bart De Muynck, said during a talk titled “How to Counteract the Growing Complexity in Last Mile.”
One reason for that step is the growing mix of transportation partners needed to move parcels from end to end, he said. In addition to traditional parcel delivery firms like DHL, Purolator, and UPS, that list now includes options like local couriers/integrators, crowdsourcing models like Grubhub or Uber Eats, special-care less than truckload (LTL) delivery and installation services, LTL service without installation, and full truckload.
However, when a retailer may now choose between several dozen regional carriers to whisk a package to a single address, they increasingly struggle to answer the classic customer question of “Where’s my order?” said Rick DiMaio, senior vice president for supply chain at Office Depot.
Technology can help, with applications such as dynamic rate shopping, parcel optimization, real-time delivery slots, real-time dynamic routing, last mile delivery visibility, customer experience management, and digital collaboration.
But unless data is perfectly integrated between all those platforms and technologies, the solution can create more problems than it solves, DiMaio said. So the company has been focusing its efforts on making—and meeting—realistic delivery estimates for most orders instead of chasing next-day delivery across the board.