March 16, 2018

The importance of the final mile

If the final mile is so vital then why are so many brands still bad at it?

This is the central question that all businesses need to seriously consider when optimising their customer experience. After all, the only part of the whole process that the customer sees is what happens when they buy something. Even if you have diverted serious resources to building an innovative new website and have the best product, your customers won’t care if you give them a bad experience when purchasing it.

Make your customer experience the best it can be

Most customers now expect a certain level of service as standard which means you must deliver it. From the way the product is presented to updates on the status of their order and flexible return options, your customers will be looking for you to go that final mile to satisfy them.

What becomes apparent when considering this is that there is now a huge pressure on retailers to meet their customers’ expectations. This takes in all devices, platforms and locations across the globe.

Image result for parcel delivery

What challenges does this present for businesses?

Behind this e-commerce issue lies a whole host of questions and challenges for businesses to answer. The fulfilment of customer expectations in a way that satisfies them is just one. Customers must be left with the warm glow of a positive experience after shopping with you. This naturally means that businesses must look at their processes and procedures to ensure this takes place.

Of course, another aspect of being able to go that final mile lies with inventory deployment and supply chain network design. Organisations must have a robust supply chain in place to ensure they always have a flow of stock in to meet customers’ orders and avoid delays. Once the supply chain has delivered the stock, proper inventory management must happen to monitor levels and also get orders out to customers quickly.

Many businesses will also have to address omnichannel distribution channels in this area. Being able to offer customers various delivery options is seen as standard now. With this in mind, your business should be able to use a variety of methods to get the product to the customer when they want it.

Data is king

As retailers strive to offer a near-perfect shopping experience, leveraging the right data across multiple channels becomes even more important. This is a direct result of reliance on their network’s last-mile capabilities being amplified. As each retailer varies in the range of SKUs offered online versus in-store, there is no one-size-fits-all solution available to implement across the industry to prepare for this.

6 final mile elements to consider

If you need a hand with exactly what you should be considering when it comes to the final mile, the below list should help:

1. Don’t lose sight of what actually matters to your customers.

2. Explore cutting-edge approaches and listen to your final mile advisors.

3. Let the experts help – consider using a third-party logistics provider (3PL) to ensure your network remains efficient and flexible.

4. Delight the customer!

5. Consider your inventory’s function within your supply chain.

6. Focus on returns management efficiency – returns management should be a core part of your last-mile strategy.

A clear link has been shown previously between supply chain efficiency and revenue growth. The secret is to have the right inventory in the right place when you need it to send to the customer. A flexible network and transportation solution that allows you to meet customers’ expectations in this area is also essential. Businesses should also strive to fit the maximum amount of product and revenue into each delivery as far as possible for success.

Combine all this with a simple and hassle-free returns process and you will soon find customers coming back for more!

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