A focus on the last mile of delivery — the final leg of shipping your product to the buyer’s door — has been a growing trend for businesses for several years, but there are challenges. It’s expensive and there are lots of inefficiencies to overcome.  In fact, some estimates say last mile delivery comprises 53% of the total cost of shipping.

We’re going to explore why last-mile delivery is so challenging, and what business owners can do to overcome those challenges. Smart planning, a focus on customer satisfaction, and on-demand and flexible delivery software are just a few of the things we’ll discuss. Read on to learn about three of the main challenges in last-mile delivery and how GetSwift’s platform addresses each one. 

A Few Last-Mile Delivery Challenges

Let’s start with three thorny challenges.

1. Multiple Stops 

Rather than traveling to and from one warehouse or office, with last-mile delivery, drivers need to make several individual stops to make their deliveries.  Each stop along a driver’s route takes time. There’s the time involved with driving to the area and finding the exact home or place of business. They may have to stop for several traffic lights or stop signs. Once they arrive, there’s the time involved with walking up to the building, possibly interacting with a customer, and then walking back to their vehicle only to have to do it all over again many times throughout the day. 

2. Dense Neighborhoods 

Think of how quickly you can get 40,000 pounds of goods to a destination when you’re using a semi on a national highway to get to one or two warehouse locations. Then, think of how long it would take a driver in a small van to get the same amount of goods to homes and businesses scattered throughout a congested urban area — it takes significantly more time. One reason why is the multiple stops we discussed above, but it’s also because of the reduced travel speed. 

Last-mile drivers are often traveling in areas with lower posted speed limits — like small rural cities, busy downtowns, and residential areas. In densely populated areas they also have to deal with pedestrians and public transportation as well as traffic congestion. All of these things mean that to deliver directly to someone’s door, it’s going to take more time. 

 3. Failed and Missed Deliveries

A common problem with direct-to-consumer deliveries is a failure to complete the transaction. This can be because of any number of reasons including an incorrect address, the customer not at home, or the customer unaware of when the delivery was going to arrive. A failed delivery is not only bad business in the eyes of your customers, but it also creates additional problems in the form of redelivery cost, or even worse, lost business and negative customer reviews.  

Three Solutions In Last-Mile Delivery

Let’s look at solutions to these three major problems, one by one.

1. Real-Time Routing

When you and your driver have GetSwift’s cloud-based platform, it’s all real-time routing, so if there’s a traffic jam or an added stop, that data automatically updates the driver’s route to provide the most efficient route along with the order or stops that now makes the most sense. Saving your time and keeping customers happier. Learn more about how our AI team improves your routing.

2. Routing + Scheduling Analytics

While there’s no complete solution to having to move at lower speeds, you have lots of options to make your routes much more efficient. If your business takes advance scheduled orders, you can use our software to see how long a route will take at certain times and try to schedule your deliveries for faster times (such as delivering at night). You can also see which zip codes are too expensive to deliver to, and either decline customers who order from there or, for instance, automatically require them to make an order of a certain size.

You have many more options to save time on routes. If your delivering on demand, you can look at the analytics section of GetSwift’s platform, like our client Flowers A Bunch did, to track all your trip times in a week to analyze what routes were the least efficient, and look into why: was it one driver who you need to talk to, for instance, about strategies for getting more efficient, or is it always one route that causes problems. The opposite may be true as well: one route or neighborhood may be particularly efficient for your drivers, and you can look to increase your marketing from your store near that route to focus even more on those customers.

3. Reliable Network + Live Driver Tracking

Let’s turn this one around. The source of a failed delivery is varied: one course could unfortunately be a driver having the wrong address. That’s why it’s important to make sure your delivery management system is robustly built with the most accurate locational data and a reliable network. If your drivers are out delivering and all of a sudden the network is down, you’d not only have to scramble to get them the right addresses but it can lead to missed deliveries, and it’s hard to afford a day like that. Your drivers want to be out in the field with the confidence that they’re on the most reliable network, and that if they were to encounter a problem, they have a customer support team ready to help solve it, fast. 

Another way to turn around missed deliveries are real-time alerts, tracking links, and ETAs, along with open two-way communication between the driver and customer, so that a customer knows exactly when the driver will arrive. To minimize the likelihood of any mix-up, customers can also request that the driver record proof of delivery, including taking a photo of the package. 

Fix Your Last Mile With GetSwift

Three problems and three solutions. Talk to us about what challenges you’re having, and hear from us about how our tech, onboarding, and customer support will solve them. 

Photo: Norma Mortenson via Pexels

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