– By Nishith Rastogi
India’s e-commerce market is expected to grow robustly as it is projected to reach $400 billion by 2030. The widespread internet penetration, the convenience offered by e-commerce companies, the shift in consumer behavior during the pandemic, and the popularity of limited sales have catalyzed the surge. That said, e-commerce businesses still face significant challenges to realizing meaningful growth, such as effectively handling the surge in order volumes during peak seasons, shortening delivery time frames, and mitigating high fulfillment costs around last-mile delivery. They would not have been able to meet these challenges head-on without the help of technology solutions. A seamless dispatch management process effectively empowers e-commerce businesses to bring delight to the post-purchase consumer experience.
Understanding the dispatch management process
Dispatch management is the process through which a company or an organization plans, assigns, fulfills and keeps track of deliveries and service calls. It is a multi-step process that includes order capture and allocation, slot booking, parcel sorting, capacity management, route planning, carrier selection, and the tracking of parcels up to their delivery. Such technologies also leverage vast amounts of fulfillment and carrier data generated during deliveries to produce insightful business intelligence.
Statistics reveal that over 62 per cent of online customers believe fast delivery is the most important aspect of a positive customer experience. A consumer survey also suggests that 53 per cent of customers have ended up canceling or abandoning their purchases because the delivery was too slow or the waiting time was too long. This is why in the highly competitive world of e-commerce, as the volume of orders scale up, providing a memorable delivery experience becomes crucial, which makes dispatch management all the more pivotal.
How dispatch management technology enables last-mile excellence
Rapid development in last-mile technology solutions is transforming the last-mile delivery process into one that is more sustainable, adaptable, efficient, and capable of meeting dynamic customer demands. They leverage technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, and IoT to bring accuracy and efficiency to their last-mile logistics. Another important aspect in which digitization can bring scalable efficiencies to the last mile is order management solutions. They digitize and automate the capture, allocation, and reassignment of orders that failed in the first attempt or are assigned as returns.
One of the most impactful technology applications in the space includes route optimization, which involves creating the most effective route for drivers to deliver products in the least possible time. This requires companies to consider many factors, such as delivery time windows, vehicle load capacity, driver schedules, driver proximity, hub location, traffic situations, and stop locations for drivers, among others. Doing all these calculations manually in an efficient way is not possible. Route planning solutions, with the help of powerful algorithms, automatically incorporate all these factors in the routes they generate. They learn from millions of deliveries made in the past to make each delivery more efficient than the last. When capacity is needed to be expanded to effectively deliver a huge shipment of orders, it can be a tough call to quickly decide on a reliable third-party logistics partner at reasonable rates. Carrier management solutions automatically assign orders to trustworthy third-party logistics service providers based on location, service level agreements, priority, and cost.
How end-to-end visibility give businesses a competitive edge
In a short span of time, the post-purchase experience has evolved into a differentiator for brands. E-commerce companies are battling it out to provide the quickest deliveries to a vast range of pin codes, all while providing a seamless and delightful consumer experience. Despite developing new levels of efficiency with the help of technology solutions, some unforeseen snags and delays are inevitable. What is our control, however, is our ability to respond quickly to these obstacles to prevent further delays. Control tower solutions can capture real-time data generated from fleets to provide turn-by-turn visibility on every driver. Automated alerts can warn personnel in case of route deviations, unscheduled stops or potential delays to take corrective action before they escalate.
When it comes to consumers, they must have complete transparency on the status of their orders. Tracking pages provide real-time updates on the status of their order. These pages can also offer seamless communication channels between the customer and the driver or customer support teams for any concerns and valuable feedback that might improve their overall experience. The data generated from these deliveries is a goldmine as powerful analytics engines can analyze it to uncover hidden inefficiencies and new growth opportunities. These insights can easily be gleaned from intuitive dashboards to further enhance the post-purchase consumer experience to maximize their delight.
The road ahead
We live in a digital age where options are plentiful for consumers and click-to-delivery timeframes continue to shrink. In such circumstances, brands must elevate the delivery experiences to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive space. However, last-mile fulfillment, central to the post-purchase consumer experience, can become more challenging as the volume of orders grows. This is why e-commerce businesses should look at onboarding technology solutions to digitize last-mile fulfillment in an end-to-end manner.
Whether it’s order management, tracking orders, assigning tasks, planning delivery routes, sharing updates with the end consumer, or setting ETAs, dispatch management software can bring scalable efficiencies to their operations, empower their workforces to do more, and discover hidden inefficiencies. All of this helps e-commerce businesses to holistically convert their last-mile operations from a cost center to a revenue generator.
(Nishith Rastogi is the Founder & CEO of Locus)