Last-mile logistics has cemented its importance in the global e-commerce scenario, thanks to the booming growth of the e-commerce sector. It has been helped by the massive popularity of sales events during festive seasons. While businesses are eager to tap into this growth opportunity, it is not without its unique challenges: high costs of fulfillment, growing levels of congestion on roads, and scaling up massively as and when needed to meet demand.
Here are five steps to solve these last-mile challenges in India and the world:
Bring about efficiencies at scale: When millions of orders need to be fulfilled within 48 or even 24-hour timeframes, manual fulfillment processes will not be able to scale up in a timely or efficient way. What can get the job done is the adoption of technology solutions to automate repetitive, but vital tasks. Order management solutions keep track of every incoming order and assign them to an appropriate vehicle in a fleet. They can go a step further and reassign orders that have failed, and even slot in returns. Moreover, Carrier management solutions can ramp up capacity by automating the hiring of third-party logistics providers at reasonable rates: a must-have to keep up with frantic demand during the sales period.
Empower workforces to do more: Finding the quickest route to make deliveries means savings in fuel, time, empty miles driven, and last-mile delivery costs. It allows drivers to make more deliveries, increasing the scale at which these benefits are realized. However, routes also needed to be chalked up in the quickest possible way. This is why route planning solutions have been highly valued in last-mile logistics. Their advanced algorithms can take into account hundreds of real-world constraints like distance, service level agreements, traffic, and fuel spent to automate the creation of optimal delivery routes. Such solutions even reconfigure routes in real-time to prevent delays from unforeseen events like accidents, bottlenecks on the road, sudden inclement weather, etc.
Have end-to-end visibility: The best way to tackle unforeseen challenges is to have complete knowledge of on-ground situations, preferably in real-time. Today’s control tower solutions provide just this kind of end-to-end visibility for fleet supervisors. Through a single screen, supervisors can track the progress of every driver in a fleet in real-time, and take necessary action before route deviations, unscheduled stops, vehicle breakdowns, and other breaches to prevent delays.
Deliver an unparalleled consumer experience: Apart from on-time and quick deliveries, the modern consumer expects a seamless and delightful experience after making purchases. It involves them being kept in the loop on the status of their delivery, which makes them feel valued and adds to the excitement of making e-commerce purchases. It also gives businesses a chance to be transparent about any unavoidable delays. Tracking pages are consumer-facing pages that fulfill all these needs. They provide real-time updates on the status of a consumer’s order, and seamless communication channels with a business over concerns, queries, and feedback.
Uncover inefficiencies: The billions of data points that drivers generate every day are truly a goldmine of insights if captured and analyzed well. This data-driven approach is now possible with the help of state-of-the-art analytics engines. Their powerful computing capabilities uncover deep inefficiencies in operations that can be actioned on to secure new levels of efficiency. Intuitive dashboards also provided a consolidated view of the key performance indicators. The effect of any changes in process and strategy can be gauged with the help of these tools.
Last-mile deliveries can be a tough nut to crack, but with the adoption of the right technology solutions and the right direction, it can be converted from a cost center to a revenue generator.
The author is Nishith Rastogi, Founder and CEO, Locus
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