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Going the Last Mile

By Retail Technology | Wednesday May 6 2020

The customer last mile journey on order delivery has become all important, but how do you ensure you provide the best possible experience? Darko Atijas of True Altitude provides his expert opinion

The accelerated growth in ecommerce and the growing capabilities of large ecommerce players has seen superior last mile performance becoming a key priority for businesses wishing to achieve higher market share and ensure competitiveness.

Last mile encompasses the movement of goods from the transportation hub to the final destination, and last yard, a term more recently coined, describes the transfer of goods from the last mile destination into the receivers hands.

Recognising the role of last mile and last yard delivery is crucial for a number of reasons, being the final physical interaction in an increasingly digital chain of events. 

Primarily, ecommerce growth over the past decade has accelerated consumer demand for an enhanced and positive experience. Companies able to deliver value in this area are more likely to become and remain market leaders. A key way of achieving this is in the last mile / yard of delivery. 

Digital age

The proliferation of products and services consumers are exposed to in the digital age has meant companies constantly need to find ways to remain ahead of others. One bad experience with a brand can tarnish a reputation, as consumers increasingly look to social media and reviews to form purchasing decisions.

If companies can ensure they provide a positive experience in getting the product to the consumer, the consumer is likely to be far more satisfied with the overall experience. 

Ask yourselves – what is the most frequent source of customer calls/inquiries or bad reviews online?   Many, in some retailers’ case most, are supply chain related and directly correlated with poor delivery experience.

The statistics reinforce emphasis on importance of staying in line with consumer preference.   For example, free 48 hour delivery is simply not enough for many customers now.  

Premium service

According to a recent report by McKinsey & Co, about a quarter of consumers would pay a premium for same day delivery (a figure which has doubled in past 5 years) and 5% would pay more for reliable, timed delivery.  

This growth in demand for premium same day delivery, is one of the objective proofs the delivery experience is something consumers value highly when it comes to ordering goods online.

Looking to the future, McKinsey also predict same-day and instant delivery will reach a combined share of 20 - 25% of the market by 2025.   This is an increase from 3-4% currently.    

It is important for companies to get ahead of the curve now, and realise the benefits superior last mile performance has to offer.

COVID-19 effect

Last mile is predicted to continue rising volume in line with accelerated ecommerce growth during coming years, exacerbated by the challenges and changes that Covid-19 has brought about. 

In light of the situation we all currently find ourselves in, I have spent some time piecing together some key advice for retailers and digital commerce platforms.

This advice surrounds the role of last mile to remain competitive in the coming years, and more general advice, as businesses move forward in uncertain times. 

  1. Consider a significant reduction in physical stores in the long term, shifting to digital stock availability. 

Firstly, taking a look at the long term strategy of your business is fundamental. Considering a reduction in your physical stores now will pay off. Placing emphasis on establishing digital stock availability and investing in the technology that supports this transition is really important for businesses moving forward. 

  1. List stock on marketplaces and diversify digital store fronts, connecting them with a unified delivery offering.

Providing a unified delivery offering to the consumer is essential in bringing together all the elements that make your business successful. Listing the stock you have available on marketplaces and diversifying digital store fronts will help to enhance your service offering. 

  1. Enriched product data on the ecommerce platform presented on all device orientations will be critical.

As the world increasingly shifts towards digital, accelerated even more so by Covid-19, establishing enriched product data on the ecommerce platform presented on all device orientations is critical, also an important factor in providing superior customer experience. 

Provide transparent delivery cost and tracking functionality to keep customers up to date and engaged.

Reinforcing the importance of customer experience, providing transparent delivery costs and tracking functionality will help in keeping customers engaged and up to date with the journey of their delivery. 

  1. Consider your brand with your packaging and decide what you can do to stand out in a sea of brown boxes.

Key differentiator

Finally, spend some time thinking about how you can make your packaging stand out in the competitive environment the majority of retailers find themselves operating within.

Place emphasis on understanding what is memorable for the consumer, and how you can ensure they will come back to purchase from you again. 

To conclude, efficient last mile performance is a key differentiator and opportunity to deliver high level customer experience.

Investing in the experience of the consumer at the final touchpoint is crucial in the quest to remain relevant and competitive.


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