Package-tracking and delivery notifications are value-added services that are no longer reserved only for critical or urgent deliveries. They have become a basic requirement in both the business and consumer world. Logistics managers understand that they face global competition, which creates a double challenge for them – improving customer service while reducing delivery costs. What adds further pressure to smaller providers is the increasing commonality of penalties of delays. To boost efficiencies, supply chains have to operate at a grander scale.
Luckily, the solution to leveraging the final mile as the supply chain grows more complex and global is within hand’s reach. Thanks to advanced technology and increased use of mobile platforms, it can help enhance the customer experience while helping manage shipping spikes and streamline daily processes.
In today’s competitive retail landscape, retailers need to find new ways to win customers by differentiating themselves. Giants like Amazon provide premium delivery services and heightened online buyers’ expectations of fast and free shipping. Recent research shows that about 75% of buyers say that a seamless and outstanding delivery experience is the key in choosing between retailers.
Ensuring streamlined ordering processes and flawless order fulfillment is crucial to your customer satisfaction rates, and improving final mile and white glove logistics can help you with that. Let’s find out more about the best practices for scaling your supply chain with white glove final mile delivery services. Improve your supply chain processes and be able to meet the changing consumer demand.
Final Mile Logistics and White Glove Delivery
The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected the global supply chain in various problematic ways. Many industries experienced shutdowns, which exposed vulnerabilities in production and manufacturing. From cleaning products to personal protection equipment and perishable food items to toilet paper, we rely on products that have become difficult to purchase and hard to find. Entire industries had to rethink their production and inventory levels and supply chain networks to serve an increasingly global economy. That’s where white glove delivery service and final mile logistics become essential.
An increase in direct-to-consumer shipping across various industries was one response to the pandemic. It has made white glove service and last mile delivery an integral part of organizations’ logistics planning and product availability. While the economy slowly recovers and companies move into the year 2021, expecting an increase in online shopping, third-party logistics companies help their partners implement final mile logistics and white glove services and strengthen their distribution strategies.
Final Mile Logistics
Final mile logistics doesn’t imply that it’s the very last mile of the delivery stage because the actual delivery service can range from several blocks to 150 miles.It refers to the final step in the delivery from the manufacturer to the distribution center to the end recipient. The goal of the final mile (also called the last mile) logistics is to deliver packages to the end-user in the most cost-effective and quickest way possible.
For many years, final mile delivery has been used to deliver freight to commercial shopping facilities. But in recent years, we have witnessed the growth in direct-to-consumer businesses in shopping industries that were prior mostly in-person (e.g., food and grocery delivery). Therefore, final mile delivery has been used by small package carriers to deliver packages directly to consumers. Today, the parcel shipment market is worth more than $80 billion, while the growing eCommerce market is expected to double in value by 2030. The use of final mile delivery is snowballing and is in high demand.
Why is the final mile important to your business?
Any retailer, shipper, or logistics professional would agree that final mile collaboration is among the most crucial aspects of effective supply chain management.
Final mile delivery allows shippers to get more products to consumers quickly and cost-effectively, which is why shippers of all sizes are identifying the final mile as the cornerstone of driving profitability and business growth. Consumers expect low-cost and quick delivery for a wide range of products, and final mile helps retailers better manage their inventory and remain competitive within the online shopping market. To be able to compete with large online businesses, SMBs must respond to these changing shipping demands.
Manufacturers and wholesalers use improved warehousing technology, and final mile logistics better control inventory and increase distribution efficiencies as production and sales continue to rebound from the lows experienced earlier. Besides improving shipping timelines, such innovations also lead to significant money savings. Final mile delivery is also used for cross-docking, job site, business-to-warehouse, and business-to-business deliveries. For example, logistics companies are helping Amazon merchants to better manage warehousing, product inventory, and distribution to Amazon’s warehouses for direct-to-consumer deliveries.
White Glove Service
White glove delivery services are services offered in transportation management that go above-and-beyond standard delivery expectations. But it is also an added risk – a consumer may be happy with seeing a package delivered to their doorstep, but that package could be stolen, or it’s contents could perish. That’s why white glove services must go beyond the standard expectations in delivery. By definition, white glove delivery refers to the careful handling when moving packages in which the shippers take every precaution necessary to protect the product being moved. They also spare no expense to deliver what the recipient wants.
Products such as furniture, refrigerators, expensive electronics, and large household appliances require white glove delivery service. If not handled with the utmost attention and care during delivery, these items could be damaged and very costly. For example, a large refrigerator can be damaged by a hook in a doorway, which is why shippers must consider using white glove logistics to deliver on the promise of providing precisely what the end recipient wants. Some products come with additional challenges and complexities – some may require professional packing/unpacking and assembly/disassembly. For some shippers, products require specialized installation that must be performed by skilled technicians.
White glove service is a premium delivery service used to serve these types of shipments. It offers excellent attention to detail and includes additional support tailored to the company and product. Such additional support includes multi-persona delivery, special handling requirements, final placement, assembly, installation, and other special needs.
In 2020, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had forced business leaders to make significant strategic adjustments to minimize delivery issues and meet demand across industries. To scale their supply chain in today’s ever-changing global business environment, enterprises need help from strong logistics partners who can address issues around last mile delivery, white glove service, and inventory fulfillment.
What Makes an Effective Final Mile Logistics Strategy?
Now that you understand the concepts of final mile logistics and white glove delivery, you have won only half the battle. Next, you need to reevaluate your existing logistics strategy and develop a new, practical plan that aligns business and consumer expectation. That’s the only way shippers can solidify their market position and keep providing products to their customers. These are the nine essential points you must consider when developing an effective final mile strategy.
- Planning is crucial
Effective planning marks the beginning of any effective logistics strategy. Shippers need to evaluate their current final mile logistics strategy and develop new plans for managing the adoption or creation of an effective final mile logistics strategy. That includes prioritizing planning and creating standardized operating procedures for managing final mile logistics.
- Data analysis
Shippers need to analyze everything – from the smallest to the biggest possible influencers. When establishing an effective final mile logistics strategy and implementation, nothing should be off the table.
- Utilize the right logistics technology
The cost is one of the first and significant problems you’ll encounter when developing a final mile logistics strategy. In the entire supply chain, final mile logistics has always been the least efficient stage of the process (it may account for up to 53% of the total cost of shipping). Delays and problems in final mile shipping can eat away your fuel costs and significantly affect your brand image. However, utilizing the latest logistics technology (e.g., Big Data, data analytics, Transportation Management System, etc.) can help you improve your final mile logistics processes. Shippers considering upgrading or implementing advanced technology to meet final mile logistics demands should consider speed and ease of implementation before trying to implement it. If it takes longer to implement the technology, you risk losing customers because eCommerce markets move quickly.
- Put your customers first
Every effective final mile logistics strategy is consumer-centric, which means that it’s always focused on consumer needs. Regardless of whether we’re talking about business-to-business or direct-to-consumer sales, being consumer-centric is the cornerstone of all modern logistics strategies.
- Continuous performance measuring
Since Amazon is today’s staple of high-end standards for final mile delivery (Amazon Prime offers free and same-day shipping services), their model shows us why it’s important for shippers to measure performance. About 6% of U.S. consumers want to pay extra for same-day delivery. In comparison, 28% of them will abandon their shopping carts due to excessive fees; shippers must measure their performance to detect improvement areas. It will help them cut costs without sacrificing service or quality.
- Think unconventionally
In other words, think outside of the box because traditional logistics methods don’t work in modern final mile logistics strategies as effectively. Organizations must think of unconventional solutions to be able to meet final mile delivery demands. That’s what Deliv, Instacart, and Uber realized and became major disruptors in the industry. They can enable shippers to meet growing consumer demands for tighter and faster delivery windows.
- Manage returns
As more and more consumers continue to make more online purchases, the demand for reverse logistics will also skyrocket. Reverse logistics has a considerable impact on overall costs and customer service. Although it has gained significance during the past years, many organizations aren’t using it to their advantage.
When creating a final mile logistics strategy, reverse logistics and effectively managing returns are other vital considerations. What can complicate the issue are retail differences in Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) and returns options for brick-and-mortar and eCommerce purchases. As a result, shippers need to consider the function, form, and placement of inventory (including the one coming in from reverse logistics channels) in their entire distribution and warehousing network. That way, the company will ensure that the product is available nearest to consumers (even if it’s returned or refurbished).
How quickly can a product be shipped and delivered? This is another important consideration of final mile logistics that goes back to the location of consumers and the location of the product. For the final mile logistics strategy to be as effective as possible, shippers need to create a robust process that shrinks the distance between consumer and warehouse (which might include using a store-as-a-distribution center). Those shippers that manage to reduce this distance will create a more effective and tighter final mile logistics strategy.
The last consideration is managing the entire last mile delivery process. That includes managing the driver, the trucks, the shipment, the technology used to track shipments, consumer devices, and online platforms. Shippers can’t really track what customers use their devices for all the time, but they can use Big Data and metrics to track what customers are doing on their eCommerce websites.
How Adding White Glove Services Complements Final Mile Logistics
Just like final mile delivery, white glove services refer to the services provided by a carrier or a shipper that goes above-and-beyond the traditional delivery. That’s why white glove delivery service is often reserved for purchases of high-quality products or those that require extensive delivery and setup. For example, items that required extra consideration and care during shipping or a piece of furniture that’s too bulky to fit in a regular pallet within a full truckload.
- Final mile is set to become the most important part of product shipping
Since carriers and shippers feel increased pressure to move bulkier and bigger products throughout their supply chains, the use of final mile logistics and white glove services is expected to increase. And since final mile logistics are the stage in the logistics process that customers have the most interaction, they will notice any failure that occurs in this phase. To ensure that they can reach consumers (regardless of the consumer location), shippers need to start working to add and/or improve their final mile delivery services (including outsourcing).
- White glove services will help shippers address pain points and solve complex shipping problems
By adding white glove services to their final mile delivery logistics, shippers will gain the opportunity to solve some of the most challenging problems in the logistics industry. For example, space utilization and wastage are one of those problems. As the space capacity tightens, securing available capacity to ship bulky, large items via regular freight would grow stricter, which will result in higher costs for shipping items that don’t meet the criteria for an LTL shipment (full truckload). But by using white glove logistics to reduce costs for labor-intensive and bulky purchases will remove the problem from traditional shippers or parcel and small package carriers, and make sure that shipments will reach consumers on time.
- Support during peak season
In many cases, shippers won’t need to provide white glove services. However, having access to this service will enhance the scalability of a company, particularly during peak shopping seasons such as Christmas holidays, Valentine’s Day, back-to-school season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. During peak shopping seasons, white glove service has proven to be very useful and in the highest demand. For instance, when consumers buy new furniture, décor, gifts, office equipment, or electronics, they want it delivered and set up in their home.
One of the most important aspects of successful white glove services is the need to complete these activities while buyers are away. Because white glove service brings an added layer of skill and trust during delivery, shippers provide their consumers more than just a mere product delivery. They become an extension of their IT team, carpenter, interior decorator, and more. Shippers add white glove service to their final mile logistics strategy and can position themselves to stay competitive even with the major retailers and giants like Amazon.
- Including after-sale service
An exciting prospect regarding the use of final mile capabilities and white glove services will be the evolution of contracted services after the sale. Today, white glove services typically include delivery and product set up, but in the future, more companies will begin using them as a type of customer satisfaction career. That may include installation of new property, servicing of existing property, and removal of all property.
When shippers offer an additional level of final mile and white glove services, they will improve their brand reputation because personalized services consider the unique needs of consumers. Some consumers want their packages delivered to their workplace or left inside their home or vehicle, and their purchases may even require assembly while they’re not present.
Adding final mile and white glove services can help scale your supply chain. It’s expected that more and more shippers will look to final mile and white glove services to offer an additional layer of benefit to consumers. Delivery is the most significant part of any transaction and making a misstep in delivery can break a business. That’s why shippers need to start rethinking their logistics processes, investing in new technology, and finding logistics partners to help them increase supply chain visibility and accountability into final-mile logistics. Eventually, shippers should consider adding white glove service for shipments.
One of the best ways for scaling your supply chain with final mile and white glove logistics and meeting such complicated challenges is by outsourcing to a 3PL (third-party logistics provider). These logistics companies offer expertise and specialized resources and are positioned to provide cost savings and support. Feel free to reach out to Logistics Titans and ask us about our processes.