The booming growth of e-commerce and DTC brands has created a new thriving industry, Last Mile Delivery. Last-mile delivery is the final step of many retail supply chains that gets the product from a distributor, warehouse, or retail store to the end customer.

With many product brands shifting focus to e-commerce sales, companies are quickly discovering that last-mile delivery is one of their highest costs. Because last-mile delivery focuses on shipping products straight to customers’ doorsteps, optimizing the process is challenging.

In a market where 70% of consumers shop online, faster delivery speeds and lower shipping costs are powerful competitive advantages. Fortunately, e-commerce and DTC brands can strengthen their last-mile delivery to grow their business and enhance the customer experience.

1. Leverage Automation Tools

E-commerce and DTC brands can use automation tools to streamline processes, reduce operational costs, and improve the user experience.

Automation is most commonly used for customer communications. For last-mile delivery, brands can automate processes to communicate shipment updates such as expected delivery times, arrival status, delays, and other information.

With automation tools, brands can provide world-class customer service while reducing manual labor and operational costs.

2. Optimize Route Planning

Brands can use AI-powered tools to optimize fuel routes for delivery speeds and fuel consumption. UPS famously revealed that their delivery trucks turn right 90% of the time to save time, lower fuel costs, and reduce vehicle accidents.

Route optimization software can analyze historical and real-time tracking data to create cost- and time-efficient delivery schedules. These routes can be updated in real-time to avoid traffic delays, account for new shipments, and adapt to other variables.

Route optimization software automates the communication process for drivers so they always have accurate route information. With these tools, brands can improve delivery times, reduce shipping costs, and avoid human error.

3. Monitor Delivery Performance

Even with the best automation and optimization strategies, delivery performance is in the hand of your drivers. Brands should utilize systems that track driver performance, such as on-time rates, service times, customer feedback, number of packages delivered, and total distance traveled.

By recording and analyzing this data, companies can uncover strengths of weaknesses in their last-mile delivery. Drivers with below-average performance may reveal issues with personnel, route optimization systems, vehicle performance, and other logistics problems.

4. Diversify Your Last-Mile Strategy

With the rise in popularity of e-commerce platforms and delivery services, brands now have access to multiple ways to engage consumers. The best way to capitalize on this trend is to ensure that consumers can purchase your products through numerous marketplaces and delivery services.

While Amazon accounts for 37.8% of retail e-commerce sales, many brands are looking to other retailers like Walmart, CVS, Home Depot, and Sprouts to diversify their last-mile delivery strategies and reach new customers.

Other organizations are pairing with food delivery companies like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates to offer customers same-day delivery of their products.

Expanding your delivery offerings allows shoppers to access your products from a broader range of providers, reducing shipping costs for you and your customers.

With more than 76% of Americans shopping online, E-commerce is slowly becoming the predominant way people buy their favorite products.

While e-commerce supremacy is becoming more apparent each day, the challenges e-commerce operations face are also rising.

Rising inflation, the war in Ukraine, and ongoing pandemic-fueled difficulties continue to cause supply chain disruptions for companies worldwide. As we continue to deal with these new economic norms, there are a few strategies e-commerce brands can take to avoid supply chain disruptions.

1. Create Models & Contingency Plans

The actual supply chain issue isn’t the issues themselves but that our current system couldn’t handle the fluctuations caused by the pandemic. By creating models and contingency plans for various scenarios, companies can have an action plan ready for any disruption.

2. Monitor First-Party Retail Data

One of the best predictors of consumer demand is first-party retail data. Companies can identify early warning signs of supply chain volatility by keeping an eye on point-of-sale fluctuations in-store and online.

3. Create Data Partnerships with Suppliers

Many of the pandemic-fueled supply chain disruptions stemmed from a communication breakdown. If you’re viewing retail data that may signal a spike or decline in demand and that your suppliers aren’t aware of, they may not be able or willing to meet your new requirements. You should not only consider sharing data to help mitigate risks, but you may also find a partner to share the costs.

4. Invest in Real-Time Data

Minor delays can significantly impact today’s highly optimized supply chain. Fortunately, with machine learning, AI, and 5G innovations, companies can access real-time tracking data for shipments from cargo ships to last-mile delivery. If there’s an issue, the best way to save money is to get notified as quickly as possible.

5. Incorporate Cybersecurity Measures

Data breaches are becoming a more common issue for companies worldwide. By investing in cybersecurity technologies and conducting a cybersecurity audit, you can identify weak spots that may hamper your digital capabilities. Taking these measures can help prevent untimely disruptions and financial risks.

6. Keep Customers Informed

No business likes admitting a problem, but problems are unavoidable for any business. When issues do arise, it’s essential to manage customer expectations. Luckily, companies can automate the process of informing customers of delays when they occur, saving companies time and improving customer relations.

7. Utilize E-Commerce Marketplace Services

E-commerce brands are one of many in the fight against supply chain disruptions. When brands lose out on shipments, e-commerce marketplaces also lose commissions. Fortunately, many of these marketplaces offer brands tools and resources to help combat these issues. These tools include real-time tracking, alternative component suppliers, and customer outreach. While e-commerce platforms like Amazon notoriously take a large chunk of brand sales, they can be your best friend in a crisis.

While the holiday season is often the best time for e-commerce brands, slumps in consumer demand hamper brand expectations. To better prepare for a slower holiday season and a challenging start to the new year, e-commerce brands should consider investing in technologies and systems to help mitigate supply chain difficulties.

For more information call National Delivery Solutions

There’s no denying that the global economy is balanced on a razor’s edge. With skyrocketing inflation, volatile unemployment, and pandemic-fueled supply chain issues, many companies are preparing for more bad news.

Fortunately, downturns are a normal part of a functioning economy. While massive layoffs and lower profit margins may cause a panic on Wall St., there’s no reason to abandon ship just yet. In hard economic times like these, the best thing to do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Below are 3 major concerns for the Logistics Industry and how you can prepare for them.

1. Labor and Shipping Shortages

Around the world, logistics companies are struggling to find skilled workers to accommodate a growing logistics industry. From dock workers to warehouse employees to truck drivers, employers are constantly battling to fill job vacancies.

Companies can prepare by expecting shipping shortages, delays, and other difficulties. One strategy can be working with multiple logistics companies. Through diversification, companies can choose the lowest-cost provider and ensure that their products will be delivered if another company falls through.

Further, companies can also prepare by stocking up on inventory. Rising prices and disruptions to the global supply chain are hard to predict. Rather than gambling with your inventory, try to prepare for scenarios that include delivery disruptions and shipping shortages.

2. Increased Freight Costs

Rising wages, gas prices, and inflation are causing prices to rise across every industry, including logistics. Along with events that have disrupted the global supply chain like the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine-Russian War, shipping by land and sea has become exponentially more expensive.

For instance, transporting a 40-ft steel cargo container from Shanghai to Rotterdam now costs $10,522 , more than 547% higher than the 5-year average. With more than 80% of all goods transported by cargo ships, price increases in sea-shipping will be felt by consumers and businesses at every level.

Companies can prepare by taking measures to streamline their supply chains. Some companies are looking to simplify their supply chains by removing certain distributors or intermediate businesses from the process. For other companies, it may mean moving parts of the supply chain closer to home.

3. Managing Customer Expectations

As the pandemic forced everyone to spend more time at home, online shopping was revolutionized overnight. With more than 80% of Americans regularly shopping online , consumers have new expectations when it comes to shipment tracking and delivery times.

Despite America’s new obsession, many Americans are feeling the effects of global shipping delays. For instance, many consumers have been forced to wait months on furniture orders coming from overseas.

Companies can prepare by improving their customer communications. By making it clear that certain items will experience delivery delays, companies can avoid product returns, bad reviews, and other customer frustrations.

Whether our economy has already hit the bottom or not, economists believe the next few years will be riddled with continued supply chain complications. Therefore, it’s always better to create strategies that encompass a wide range of scenarios, so you can retain business growth and protect your bottom line.

As the global economy begins to settle into the post-pandemic realities of supply chain disruptions, rising costs, and international conflict, most sectors are looking to Tech firms as a solution to their problems.

In the aftermath, it feels like no other industry was hurt more than logistics. With cargo ships waiting weeks to unload inventory, factories shutting down due to mandated quarantines, and more, the pandemic revealed the numerous amount of weak points in the global supply chain.

As a result of pandemic woes and the boom in E-commerce, Logistics firms have been eager to partner with Tech firms and integrate new systems to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.

The results are as diverse as they are creative. Here are some examples of technology for logistics:

  • Big Data has provided industry leaders with advanced analytics and real-time tracking capabilities that are used to optimize routes, identify supply chain weak points, and reorganize supply chains to combat real-time obstacles like traffic, weather, and downed vehicles. 
  • AI and Robotics have been used in warehouses for years at companies like Amazon and Alibaba. However, tech firms like Geek+ and Paack are looking to make automated warehouses available to more businesses. The launch of their combined warehouse in Madrid will be the largest autonomous robot project in Europe and a shining example of how automated solutions can be integrated into entire ecosystems. 
  • Blockchain is being used to track everything from actual shipments to documents. CargoX, a leader in digital transfers for ocean freight, is leveraging blockchain to safely deliver more than 1.5 million trade and finance documents to over 100k customers. 
  • Location Technologies are being used in conjunction with warehouse robots and shipping systems to optimize inventory management by reducing asset dwell time, improving floor workflow, streamlining order fulfillment, and enhancing asset utilization. 
  • Automation for cargo ships, trucks, and drones is on the cusp of broad adoption across the industry. With companies like Walmart already testing a fleet of autonomous drones in the U.S., it’s only a matter of time before the majority of our supply chain is completely automated. 

The above examples only begin to scratch the surface of how Tech firms plan to improve the Logistics Industry using technology for logistics.

The large investments being made to upgrade and integrate new technologies prove that there is a happy marriage between Tech Firms and Logistics Firms. The improved sentiment for technology also hints at another key trend, consolidation.

In the last year, M&A in the Transportation and Logistics industry reached a whopping $246 billion, a 6% increase from the previous year. Unsurprisingly, technology-backed solutions are expected to be the driving force behind these M&As as logistic firms search for solutions to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

As logistic firms continue to expand their ecosystems and scale up operations to meet demand from E-commerce and reduce costs, there’s little doubt that Tech firms will play a pivotal role in innovating the industry.