4 Shipping Strategies to Conquer Last-Mile Delivery

The key to creating the perfect fast-delivery shipping model and offering the best customer experience is closer than you think.

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Now that Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping is considered the norm for the retail industry, many customers expect their orders to be delivered within days, if not sooner. In fact, according to a recent Logistics Viewpoints report, 50 percent of millennials desire even quicker than two-day deliveries. Some even prefer a window of only a few hours, which requires specific delivery services that shippers are finding difficult to provide. 

As shippers search for ways to meet these demands, they must keep in mind, however, that just delivering the order on time doesn’t guarantee a satisfied customer. While delivery time is important, how the order is delivered is also a vital part of the customer experience. 

As soon as a customers receive their order, they start to question, “Was my order delivered within the window I asked for? Was the packaging damaged? Was the delivery driver rude?” While these circumstances aren’t always the shipper’s responsibility, they do make an impact on the overall customer experience. This last-mile delivery can actually have a lasting effect on an organization’s customers and be the deciding factor as to whether or not they will order again. It can even result in a bad review, ultimately hurting their reputation. 

Fortunately, the key to creating a perfect, fast-delivery shipping model and offering the best customer experience might be closer than you think. By leveraging the following strategies, shippers can create a successful last-mile delivery plan and ensure customers remain happy from the time they place their order to when they open the parcel. 

Identify a scalable shipping model. The most successful shipping strategies have the ability to adapt to other geographies and expand as business grows. With a model that can be implemented in other markets, shippers can ensure the customer experience isn’t lost as they gain satisfied customers across the globe. 

Create more fulfillment centers. Shippers can step up their omnichannel strategy by utilizing their store, suppliers and manufacturers to supplement their distribution centers. These partners can ship items directly from their facilities to ensure customers get their orders even faster. Shippers can also turn to third-party logistics companies for additional help, especially during the holiday shopping season. 

Consider a variety of carriers, including both regional and local. Many retailers may not realize local carriers can transport shipments 80 to 100 miles within a specified zone. This is an excellent mode of transportation for last-mile delivery as it can provide a personalized, caring service for customers. Regional carriers also offer longer time schedules for pick-up and delivery and can even provide next-day delivery options. These carriers are especially beneficial for retailers with multiple distribution centers and a high concentration of customers in a specific area. 

Develop your own shipping strategy. While it may be easier to adjust an already established shipping model, that strategy may not be best for your business and your customers. Customers want niche opportunities and experiences, so offer them. 

The opportunities for creating the ideal customer-focused shipping strategy are endless. By listening and understanding customers’ needs, retailers can determine the best shipping strategy to meet, and even exceed, their demands. 

Matt Mullen is senior vice president and managing director at ProShip Inc., a Neopost company, and a global provider of logistics software and product solutions, including enterprise-wide, multi-carrier shipping and manifesting software, automated packing solutions and intelligent parcel lockers.

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