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Last mile: The secret to successful transports

Why successful deliveries drive profitability

When a shipment enters the final transport leg, it still has to complete that last crucial section. The last mile determines the profitability of transports. Is the logistics service provider making money? Or does it start losing money with the second delivery attempt?

According to common industry estimates, the last mile accounts for a good 50 per cent of the costs of parcel transport and delivery. However, the final leg holds the key to success in other forms of transport, too. Careful coordination of the last mile will unlock profitability. Providers wanting to improve their last-mile performance should: 

  • Give all drivers an app for delivery
  • Exchange information in real time
  • Provide clear instructions on all process steps
  • Clearly explain the delivery situation
  • Document each delivery beyond a shadow of a doubt
  • Communicate quickly and clearly without disrupting the trip
  • Include contact details for the recipient in the delivery order
  • Make it easier to make and document calls 

Focusing on managing the last mile makes it far more likely that the transport will end successfully with a short delivery stop. All extra relevant information will make the driver's job easier.


Central management

Guiding the driver

The first step in successfully preparing for a delivery trip is a digital cargo manifest. If drivers scan in all the parcels during loading, they can be sure that they are all loaded correctly. In the vehicle, the address is automatically transferred to the driver’s preferred navigation system, guaranteeing that the trip will end up at the right address. While en route, modern systems automatically determine the estimated time of arrival (ETA) for each stop based on the driver’s driving time and the number of parcels to unload. Providers who want to give customers more information can display the vehicle’s position on an online map along with the ETA. For larger deliveries involving two people, a workflow-based app also lets the delivery staff automatically call the consignee before they arrive in order to give sufficient advance notice of their arrival. The phone number, which is stored in the trip data, is dialled with the push of a button. A predefined dialogue then appears in which the user can easily indicate whether the recipient answered the call and the delivery can be made. This information is sent to the dispatchers, who can pull ahead other stops and thus increase the delivery rate. The driver is automatically notified of these changes and directed to the next destination.

Fleet management

All vehicles at a glance

Some logistics service providers now show customers a live map for tracking the progress of their delivery vehicle. The map gives dispatchers an effective overview: They see all their vehicles along with information on the trip, the next stop, all completed stops and individual ETAs. That way, their service team can always provide solid information and support drivers if unforeseen problems occur. Several people are thus responsible for successful deliveries: drivers, who safely travel to the destination, and dispatchers, who keep an eye on the big picture. Regular traffic jams and road construction can be included in trip planning, which raises the likelihood that deliveries will be made and reduces stress for the driver while on the road. In addition, dispatchers always know what resources will be available next. Handling processes are accelerated, too: shipment preparation, gate assignment and loading. Through such finely tuned coordination, logistics service providers can capitalize on extensive opportunities to increase stop density – another key element in reducing delivery costs.

Documentation

Solid evidence of successful delivery

In addition to its many operational advantages, a delivery app also supports commercial processes on the last mile. This is because proof of delivery (POD) is both a requirement for invoicing and proof of the transfer of risk. The faster the POD is (digitally) available, the sooner the invoice can be issued. There are other positive knock-on effects, too: Payment periods start sooner. Payments are then received earlier, which improves cash flow for logistics service providers. The app also properly documents all the steps on the last mile for scenarios such as future audits: calls announcing delivery, waiting times, delivery attempts and the actual delivery. A workflow-based solution supports different delivery scenarios: For deliveries based on a delivery note, it accelerates downstream processing with a photo of the paper document. For contactless delivery, it offers several ways to generate unimpeachable documentation. It can use photos, time stamps and GPS coordinates, or it can take a picture of the goods and recipients. For each shipper's requirement, it offers an effective way to document the transfer of liability properly and clearly. This reduces the risk of complaints and entitles the provider to receive payment for its services sooner.

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