Why the Last-Mile Shouldn’t Be the Last Thought
Author: Jasmine Waters
Sitting and waiting for your delivery to turn up might now be considered as an indoor sport. Delivery has always been an aspect of the retail journey that has the power to turn a shopper’s interest at the last minute, especially as many consumers expect many options to be offered without needing to commit. As this demand for delivery increases, the question of how to tackle the logistical ‘last-mile’ has been forced into the spotlight. What do brands need to make sure they have in place before a difficult seasonal period?
Why is the last-mile so hard to get right?
Now that many of us remain – or are back under – some kind of national lockdown restrictions, the value of providing any kind of product has now fallen firmly back on the retailer’s shoulders. This part of the delivery process is not just environmentally questionable (we’ve all moaned about our tiny order packaged in a massive box), but it also accounts for a great deal of business cost and labour. In order for any brand to successfully navigate the stormy season ahead, they’re going to need to be savvy and strategically planned. There has never been a greater reason to reassess how a delivery process can be streamlined, particularly to capitalise on long-term investing and a potential to grow a customer base.
What forms of delivery can brands look to?
Around the world, we’re already seeing varying methods by brands and businesses of all sizes. For those operating in more than one location, some have introduced a shared concierge shopping service. The products are personally delivered, while the customer can immediately try what they do and don’t like, only for the concierge to be immediately waiting to take the unwanted goods back. This might seem like a far-fetched approach, but it can help the brand to know exactly what to expect to be returned and make future arrangements to resell it. Some choose to take advantage of this either third-person or in-house – which despite perhaps being more costly, ultimately gives the retailer greater control over their consumer communication.
Localised retail can again play an important role in this section of the journey, as it helps to logistically balance out the demand of online sales. There is now a greater need for brands to provide the option of collection from ‘parcel lockers’ or collection touchpoints in more rural and local areas, as we see the spending habits of the post-pandemic consumer not just confined to inner-city areas. With this must come the understanding that there is also a greater chance that a customer might not have access to geographical networks or means of finances – so consider this option a true win-win situation. In markets like the UK, if a brand can get a customer to opt-in to this mode of delivery, all the better. The industry remains in two schools of thought about how this may affect consumers in the long run. Some feel that more consumers will be willing (or be encouraged) to opt for slower delivery services, while others claim there will be more responsive action at this stage of ordering. Whether the future of delivery lies in drones or hand-delivery, many markets are racing towards any head start on options or technology they can get – while many are not yet prepared for the new level of infrastructure expected to be needed in the wake of COVID-19.
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/@karolina-grabowska