Ask an Expert: How can I Improve the Last-Mile Delivery Experience?
Jay KirkpatrickDirector of Transportation and Vendor Relations
Jay Kirkpatrick, Director of Transportation and Vendor Relations, has been an integral part of the Purolator team. In his 20+ years, he has developed a mastery in transportation operations and embodied Purolator’s culture of customer service.
What is the most streamlined way to get your customer’s order to their doorstep?
The last-mile delivery is one of the most challenging and complex stages in supply chain management. It’s also an important component of your customer’s experience. Even before a shopper purchases, your shipping options, shipping costs and customer delivery reviews weigh in on their decision to buy. Once they hit the “check-out” button, your delivery provider largely controls the stakes of the customer experience and last-mile efficiency. It’s important you trust your delivery provider to work as an extension of your brand in their values, services and expertise.
In this edition of Ask An Expert, we sat down with Jay Kirkpatrick, Director of Transportation and Vendor Relations, to speak about how a delivery provider can improve the last-mile experience for your business, and ultimately, your customers.
How can a delivery provider help me provide various shipping options to my customers?
Your delivery provider can help determine the best shipping methods for you. For example, an express courier service is best used for smaller packages, such as individual e-commerce items. For a bulk shipment, say for a B2B customer, shipping a skid of products can be provided by an LTL service. This can be consolidated with other shipments for a more economical shipment. It can also take an express route for urgent turnarounds. For the most value, a business can also use deferred services to take advantage of any available capacity in the network. This could mean shipping by ground transportation or holding a shipment for 2-3 days until you achieve full capacity, rather than shipping the very next day.
How does a delivery provider stay on top of providing an efficient last-mile delivery whatever the business demands?
Consistency should be the priority for a delivery provider. The best thing a delivery provider can do is consistently deliver your goods on time, in good condition with a high level of tracking visibility. A reliable delivery provider has the tools and capacity to respond to demand fluctuations and growth. Providing businesses with a variety of shipping options before they require a shipment allows them to determine what will work best when the time comes.
What tools do delivery providers use to internally track packages within the last mile?
Delivery providers can leverage several different ways of tracking the location of a package, such as a telematics system (which combines a GPS system with on-board diagnostics). This allows other employees to view the vehicle’s speed, the safety of a vehicle in-transit and the distance of the shipment from its destination.
How can my customers gain visibility into their shipment tracking?
Good delivery providers have the technology to track shipment information. Notifications by text or email let customers know where their parcel is, every step of the way.
In what ways can data be produced to help a business analyze how efficient each last-mile journey is?
A delivery provider can give a clear idea of efficiency by providing a score to understand how successful each delivery was.
Scores and data provide visibility into the:
- Type of market
- Number of stops per city
- Parts of the city serviced
- Attributes of postal codes
Businesses can integrate this data with other geographic information systems to understand patterns in destinations for their product and the attributes of those customers to help identify future business opportunities.
A good customer experience considers returns too. How can a delivery provider help my business optimize my returns process?
With the help of a strong delivery provider, your return process can be seamless. This could mean providing packaging, pre-packaged return labels, or clear return instructions. Having a system in place that allows customers to return products is simple. But, optimizing it goes a step further and engages the original shipper or provider.
Is it important to provide various return options for my customers?
Yes, the convenience of delivery should work in whichever way the delivery is moving. For example, drop boxes provide easy, one-way return paths. All you need to do is drop your package in the box with a return label. A customer could also call for a courier to pick up a return package or take it to the retail centre.
What are some differentiators I should look for when choosing a delivery provider?
Customers should look for a service provider that can deliver a consistent standard of excellence. When growing your business, choose a delivery provider with expansive geographic coverage. This will enable you to deliver seamlessly across the country, faster. Additionally, you can optimize your customer experience with high tracking visibility.
Working as a team for an efficient last-mile experience.
To improve your last-mile delivery experience, a strong relationship with your delivery provider is key. While your customers are ultimately the judges of your last-mile success, there are many services that a delivery provider can offer to shape their experience. And beyond those services, a delivery provider has an abundance of expertise to share with your business. Specific suggestions on how best to leverage their last-mile solutions will depend on your business’s goals, values and customer needs.
Talk to your delivery provider to find out about the services and solutions that fit your business. Or better still, contact us for more information on how Purolator can improve your last-mile delivery experience.