What is last-mile Delivery for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses?
Globally, online retail sales have increased dramatically over the last decade, and the trend is expected to continue, with about 19 percent of all retail spending now being done online with home delivery. Take a look at this graph from Statista to see how much consumers have changed their behavior.
UPS, Hermes, DPD, and Amazon, to name a few, are all well-known e-commerce companies in the home delivery sector. How can smaller firms compete in last-mile delivery against these behemoths, given customer expectations for delivery speed and brand experience? This is compounded by the emergence of pure online businesses that have specialized in delivering products to consumers' doorsteps as part of their primary offering. For many retailers, matching these goods is difficult, if not impossible. They must, however, try because so much of the brand experience is now taking place on customers' doorsteps, as well as the medium-term viability of relying on physical stores for sales.
What makes the last kilometer so crucial?
The new truth is that the post-purchase internet experience has become inextricably linked to the brand experience. It isn't as easy as putting your belongings in a suitcase and handing them over to you.
For small business owners, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Although you have the advantage of being close to or familiar with the customer, you must still provide them with a positive experience following their online purchase.
The most significant characteristic for online purchasing is delivery speed, which is considered by most customers as the most important.
While Covid is a problem, many clients require contactless or no-contact delivery.
Customers are used to this technology from restaurant delivery and Uber-style services, therefore you'll need a live package tracking portal for them.
Finally, outsourcing distribution to a third-party supplier can be beneficial, but you must maintain control over the 3PL to ensure that your brand is not harmed.
Consider providing clients with a seamless delivery experience in which they can track their items and receive them fast. The delivery driver's punctuality, conduct, and packing experience on their doorstep are now crucial. All of this is, of course, predicated on the requirement to structure delivery using route planning software.
SMBs may find it more advantageous to take control of the last mile delivery experience since they can tailor the entire experience and turn it into a selling point. Winning at the last mile by using technology to manage it will result in a large reduction in customer turnover.
Because of advancements in last-mile delivery management, a local drugstore or food delivery startup can now compete for delivery experience with Amazon and Deliveroo. It might not be quick, but it might seem like a terrific local business experience that isn't corporate and benefits the community. Customers appreciate this kind of service as long as it isn't too dissimilar from ordering from a major internet retailer.
Last-mile delivery's near-term future
Covid has demonstrated both the inherent unpredictability of modern business and the lasting attractiveness of online retail and last-mile delivery. SMBs and small enterprises must now accept change and recognize that it will only continue to expand. The subtext is that if you don't put systems in place right now and rely on physical businesses, you'll be left behind.
Consumers are driven by simple wants for online purchasing that is quick, cheap, and convenient. They are, however, motivated by less self-serving motives such as shopping locally, supporting sustainable practices, and having a fuller, more authentic experience with local shops. This gives SMBs the chance to highlight their inherent advantages and create a brand experience that is both good and enjoyable.
Hundreds of local businesses have been shocked that SmartRoutes can compete with Amazon Prime or UPS for delivery speed and overall quality. What are their methods for achieving this? Simply put, they connect their online ordering system to their eCommerce site so that deliveries are automatically scheduled for drivers, and they hire local delivery workers who wear uniforms and, wait for it, grin! Even when competing against Amazon, local businesses know that this is a successful mix.
The battleground for your brand is at your consumers' doorsteps, but the good news is that you can provide a five-star experience from the moment they visit your website until the moment they receive your product.