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Winning the last mile

In today’s on-demand world, there is a rise in consumer expectations to receive goods and services almost immediately. 

Companies like Amazon, Uber, and Postmates paved the way for shoppers to expect fast, convenient delivery experiences, prompting other retailers to expedite their last-mile delivery services. The ability to deliver everything from consumer packaged goods to big, heavy and high-value goods without adding cost and complexity is now necessary. 

Retailers must create exceptional services at every point along the customer journey, including experiential delivery, to win. After all, if there’s a slow or a long delivery window, shoppers will abandon purchases. In fact, a recent SOTI survey shows that 45% of U.S. respondents will look elsewhere if delivery or pick-up of an item takes longer than two days.

Three key factors retailers need to consider to win the last mile experience focuses on offering multiple fulfillment options, optimizing logistics and developing a curated delivery network.

Provide convenient fulfillment options
To provide experiential deliveries for customers, it’s essential that retailers offer buy anywhere delivery anywhere (BADA) and buy online deliver from store (BODFS) capabilities to give customers what they want, when they want it. This is especially important for big and heavy items where it can be challenging for consumers to figure out how to get these high-ticket items directly to their homes.

Shoppers don’t want to wait weeks for their delivery to arrive, and they certainly don’t want to deal with a long delivery window on the day of their delivery. According to PwC, 41% of consumers are willing to pay an additional fee for same-day delivery, while 24% said they would pay more to receive packages within a one- or two-hour window of their choosing. Convenience and trust are key as consumers also want to be able to handle delivery on their own terms and have clear visibility and control throughout the process.

Retailers need to provide same-day or scheduled delivery within a single window to provide this type of speed and flexibility. By having convenient fulfillment options for heavy goods, consumers can schedule a time that works best for their schedule and enjoy the fast and frictionless delivery they have come to expect. 

Optimize delivery and logistics
Many retailers today still operate a traditional legacy carrier network with days or weeks of lead times, multiple carriers and all-day windows resulting in an inconsistent customer experience. To overcome these operational challenges, retailers should analyze the option of implementing forward inventory to support forecasted demand. 

One way retailers can achieve optimized delivery and logistics is by partnering with an all-in-one solution provider to implement a platform integration that can help meet these needs at scale. This will enable a strong network of resources that can help effectively manage fulfillment operations while ensuring fast and accurate delivery at the convenience of the shopper. By outsourcing the last mile, retailers will see increased inventory velocity and spend less time solving delivery issues and risks. It will also free up time to focus on other key areas of the business.

Build a personable curated delivery network 
When delivering an item into a customer’s home, it’s important that workers are always respectful of their privacy. Consumers are inviting delivery people into their homes, and it’s important that delivery workers continually build a platform of trust as they are a key representation of the retailer’s customer experience.

This starts from hiring the right friendly people to join a curated delivery network. Delivery workers must be fully vetted and trained to provide reliable same-day and scheduled delivery service for consumers. They should know how to move things as fast and safely as possible, while also creating a personal human connection that provides great service. 

Retailers like Living Spaces are providing this level of service by offering white-glove delivery options, including placement of items in rooms of choice, assembling items and removing all boxes and debris. After all, it’s the delivery experience that sets the final impression on the shopper’s overall interaction with that retailer.

Bring it home at the last mile 
At the end of the day, there’s never been a better way to add value to a retailer’s brand than serving customers with a positive scheduled delivery experience. Consumers are looking for retailers who can provide them the services they need. As people continue spending on big and heavy items, retailers will need to ensure a friendly, easy and reliable last-mile delivery solution that addresses the biggest pain points and keeps customers coming back. It’s the fast and friendly delivery of big and heavy goods that will beat the competition and leave a positive impression on the brand.

Brenda Stoner is CEO and founder of PICKUP.

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