According to a 2018 study, the preceding 18 months saw a 50% increase in last mile interactions, largely due to increased demand in B2C eCommerce. Here’s how your business can prepare itself to excel in this new reality.
The eCommerce era has redefined customer expectations
The evolution of customer expectations when it comes to home delivery has been discussed frequently in recent years, but in reality it’s more appropriate to say that they have been redefined in the current environment; the term “evolution” doesn’t quite capture just how quickly the standards have changed. For example, in just a short time Amazon went from completely utilizing the major shipping carriers for all of their deliveries to bringing more and more under their umbrella, introducing faster shipping options and giving customers the ability to see where their driver is on the delivery day.
The industry has followed suit, and thankfully you don’t have to have the economies of scale of Amazon (since almost no one does!) in order to incorporate last mile improvements for customers. All you have to do is focus on the opportunities for engagement at every step of the last mile journey.
Consistently excellent last mile service sets you apart
In the case of retail delivery, companies are typically competing against other entities that offer similar (or often the same) products at similar prices. This is especially true in the grocery industry, where companies already compete for razor-thin margins and brands are increasingly turning to home delivery as a part of their core CX.
On one hand this seems daunting, but it also represents an important opportunity: if your competitors are also offering home delivery, you can differentiate yourself by making incremental yet important improvements in your last mile experience. Make a commitment to increase visibility whenever possible. Invest in new technology such as AI that automatically optimizes delivery routes. Provide customers with easy options for returns and follow up with instant feedback opportunities.
Last mile self-service options make sense for consumers and brands
The ultimate goal is to make every aspect of the last mile experience as easy as possible for everyone involved—your customers, your delivery drivers, and your customer service team. Self-service functionality is a crucial part of this strategy, and innovative technology is now taking things that were impossible just a couple of years ago and turning them into routine interactions.
Customers can get real-time updates on driver location from any mobile device, and even track the driver’s position in an instant, all without having to call to find out where they are or when they will be there. For customers who do call during the last mile, integrated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems keep them in the loop nearly as quickly, all without the need for interaction with a live agent. This is an incredible operational savings to brands!
Success in the last mile is built on a foundation of technology and dedication
The newest, most user-friendly last mile technology available won’t be very useful unless it’s paired with employees who are willing to execute your CX strategy sale after-sale. And the most dedicated employees in the world won’t be able to save you from falling behind the competition if you don’t provide them with innovative technological tools that make home delivery more convenient and worry-free for consumers.
The new frontier of the last mile for retail and grocery businesses lies at the junction of innovative tech and team members who prioritize the service experience for every customer. Customers expect more from their last mile experience than ever before, but brands also have more affordable tools and feasible strategies at their disposal than ever before. It’s up to you to combine them in a way that delivers sustained value to your buyers each time they click the checkout button on your eCommerce platform.
Sources: https://www.retaildive.com/news/solving-for-the-last-mile-is-retails-next-big-disruption/514577/ and https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/adv/doc1/RT153-SURV-LastMile-Mar-2018.pdf?elqTrackId=8c00d67d9d684a4891ee085b659ef173&elqaid=63288&elqat=2