Last-Mile Efficiency: Key Strategies for Market Expansion

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  • September 23, 2023

Running a thriving business requires paying attention to even the smallest details, including the last mile of delivery. In fact, it’s a make-or-break arena where brands can distinguish themselves and gain a solid edge in the market. Indubitably, it may seem like a small detail, but a delay or missed delivery can lead to a lackluster customer experience, turning satisfied clients into frustrated last-time buyers. This scenario would tarnish your brand image and drive people straight into the arms of your competitors. 

Now that we’ve established the importance of last-mile deliveries, let’s focus on how to reach efficiency and enhance your customer’s experience through fast and reliable delivery.

Click and Collect and Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)

In an era where convenience is king, “click and collect” and “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS) have emerged as customer-centric approaches that offer the best of both online and offline shopping. 

The click-and-collect option allows clients to browse and purchase products online and then choose a nearby store for pick-up. The good thing about this option is that you can implement it by adopting a multichannel approach. For example, you can use VistaCreate’s Instagram post template catalog and include a link to your website in an Instagram story, leading to your products. Doing so will save people time and increase the chances of buying anything from you. 

1 Last-Mile Efficiency: Key Strategies for Market Expansion

This click-and-collect approach reduces the delivery burden significantly. Having customers pick their orders can minimize the strain on last-mile delivery (LMD), particularly during peak times. Clients who visit your physical store for pick-up may make additional purchases, driving foot traffic and increasing sales.

BOPIS is a bit similar to the CaC option, but it emphasizes the immediacy of picking up an order in-store. It appeals to clients who want their purchases instantly. This method stands out in instant gratification, where shoppers receive their items within minutes of placing an order, thus satisfying the desire for immediate access to their purchased products. Moreover, you reduce LMD costs and complexities by having buyers collect their orders in person, thanks to BOPIS.

Sustainability in Last-Mile Operations

Sustainability has become a defining aspect of modern business practices and long-term investments, with over 80% of companies planning on increasing their sustainability investments to prevent disruptions. Taking on eco-friendly last-mile operations (LMOs), you not only reduce your business’s environmental impact. You also let your brand align with the values of many environmentally conscious consumers. Various ways to make your LMOs more sustainable exist. Let’s look at the most effective and used ones:

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Transitioning your fleets to EVs would be an excellent way to start your sustainability journey. EVs produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing your carbon footprint. Many countries offer incentives for EV adoption, making it a financially viable choice. Delivery companies like DHL and UPS have integrated electric vehicles into their fleets to complete LMDs, reducing emissions.

Bicycle Couriers/Messengers

2 Last-Mile Efficiency: Key Strategies for Market Expansion

Replacing your fleet with EVs won’t necessarily improve your LMD. You don’t have to do that if your group of vehicles is fine and your budget is tight. What you can do instead is hire bicycle couriers. They can accelerate delivery times by navigating congested city streets more efficiently and are also a nice eco-friendly alternative. 

Food services are just one example of companies employing bicycle couriers for local deliveries. In big cities like New York and Tokyo, corporations hire people to deliver letters and other crucial items quickly and securely. That’s why plenty of fixed-gear riders are sliding between vehicles and delivering important stuff. 

For even greater urban mobility, electric bikes and scooters are excellent options. They offer similar advantages to bicycles but with added speed and convenience.

Embracing sustainability can enhance your brand’s image. Customers are increasingly loyal to businesses that demonstrate environmental responsibility, leading to improved market positioning.

In some markets, sustainability initiatives can give you a competitive edge, as consumers are willing to choose environmentally responsible businesses over others, especially when all other factors are equal.

Technology-Driven Optimization

Integrating technology into LMOs is no longer a luxury but a necessity if you aspire to streamline processes, reduce costs, and provide a superior customer experience. With innovative solutions coming out annually, you can’t afford to use outdated approaches, especially when it comes to deliveries. From dynamic route planning to drones, here are suggested technologies and strategies to revolutionize your LM efficiency.

Dynamic Route Planning

Invest in dynamic route planning software that optimizes real-time delivery routes. These systems take into account variables like traffic conditions, weather, and order volume, ensuring that your drivers take the most efficient path to their destinations.

Utilizing such software is a staple for most companies, allowing them to reduce fuel consumption and delivery times and resulting in significant cost savings.

Machine Learning Algorithms

Using ML algorithms can be tricky, primarily if you haven’t worked with ML before. However, learning the ropes of this technology will empower you to analyze historical delivery data and predict future demand patterns. 

You can also equip your trucks with GPS tracking and telematics systems. This way, you’ll have real-time data on vehicle location, speed, fuel consumption (as well as insights into driver behavior).

Doing all that will help you allocate resources more effectively, ensuring you cover all the deliveries delay-free. 

Drone Deliveries

Drones are multifaceted soldiers packed with terrific features. Depending on the industry employed, they can reform your delivery practices immensely. Usually, companies utilize these UAVs to bypass traffic and dense districts and reach destinations quickly, making them ideal for urgent or lightweight deliveries. With drones, you can reduce your fleet and eliminate the need to keep and maintain many, usually more costly vehicles.

3 Last-Mile Efficiency: Key Strategies for Market Expansion

Delivering packages may not be the most engaging job, as you often need to complete monotonous tasks. So, introducing drones to your brand and training your workforce to use them will make the job fun and satisfying. Unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming more prevalent daily, and delivery is among areas to leverage drones and make it the field’s part and parcel. 

Conclusion

Businesses often overlook last-mile operations, leading to a recession or even outflow of customers. Regardless of your operation area, keeping an eye on the entire delivery cycle, especially the last part, is vitally important, as it’s where issues usually appear. Sustainability, technology, and personalized services aren’t just buzzwords. They are the linchpins of a successful, evergreen brand. So, roll up your sleeves and embrace change by implementing these solutions. Good luck!

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