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Best Practices for Local Businesses doing Last Mile Delivery

Emphasizing the importance of mastering last mile delivery for an outstanding customer experience, and presenting strategies for optimizing delivery processes for small businesses.

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Mastering Last Mile Delivery: Strategies for Elevating Your Home Delivery Service

With the pandemic, the food and beverage industry has undergone significant changes. Dine-in has forced some restaurants to close, while others have shifted to online delivery until dining in can return. For the first time, some businesses have abandoned their physical locations in favour of online alternatives.

Home delivery has become the norm, and customers are associating your company’s reputation with the delivery experience they receive. But how do you know if you’re doing it right if you’re new to home delivery (also known as last mile delivery)?

“Companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years,” according to a 2020 McKinsey Global Survey. This is especially true for businesses that deliver to people’s homes.

In this blog article, we investigate how companies put together excellent delivery experiences for their customers. How do you take your home delivery to the next level, especially if you’ve never done so before?

In this article, we’ll examine the following:

  • What is last mile delivery and how does it work?
  • Last mile delivery best practices for your business
  • How to optimize your team’s last mile delivery processes

What is last mile delivery and how does it work?

Last mile delivery refers to the act of transporting a product from the nearest hub or warehouse to its final destination, which can include both businesses and private residences. Typically, this is an enterprise problem that is addressed by business with a large fleet of delivery vehicles.

However, with the rise in demand for home delivery and the democratization of software, small business owners and operators are able to not only address this traditionally enterprise problem, but do so profitably — particularly in the food and beverage space.

So, here are some best practices for your company to follow in order to achieve the best results.

Last mile delivery best practices for your business

A successful delivery experience entails more than just planning a path. If that were the case, everybody would be skilled at delivering products to the consumer’s door. Companies that excel at distribution, on the other hand, see increased sales and happier customers.

Plan out each step of your fulfillment process

It all starts with careful preparation to keep the customers happy. Everything influences how efficiently you can deliver packages to customers, from how you receive orders to how your warehouse is set up to how your routes are planned out and dispatched.

Having customers receive their packages on time will help you maintain high customer satisfaction ratings. Making sure there are no bottlenecks in your fulfillment process is an important step toward that goal. The best businesses have a system in place that allows them to quickly receive orders and prepare them for delivery.

For instance, according to your planned routes, lay out your packages in the order they will be loaded into your delivery vehicle. As a result, if you’re going to points A, B, and C in that order, make sure the delivery for Point A is closest to the door when packing, because your driver will be accessing it first. Your driver will always have the next package on the most accessible delivery route in the truck if you do this. This eliminates the need for your drivers to waste time on the road sifting through a handful of orders in order to find the right one.

This is where a delivery management system like EasyRoutes can help you save time and money. You can let EasyRoutes handle things like creating packing lists, and creating multiple delivery routes for you instead of doing them yourself.

Printing shipping labels after you’ve planned your routes is another way to help you fulfill orders faster. This will ensure that the labels are printed in the correct order.

Time, fuel, and driver salaries are all saved when deliveries are planned efficiently.

Improve efficiency with route optimization

Your team is always thinking about the bottom line as part of a small business.
As a result, it’s critical to cut costs wherever possible. Stopping extra miles is one of the simplest ways for home delivery companies to save money. These extra miles frequently result in increased fuel consumption and delivery delays.

You can ensure that your drivers are taking the most direct route possible to save money and time by using route planning software.

According to a Mapillary report, the costs of driving extra miles and wasting time alone amount to nearly $6 billion. According to the report, $2.5 billion is spent on squandered salaries and $611 million is spent on extra miles due to map issues alone.

Your drivers will notice the time savings even before they get on the road. It can take a long time to plan routes manually using pen and paper, physical maps, or online tools like Google Maps. Especially if you have multiple drivers and are constantly planning new routes.

Routing tools can help avoid human error when it comes to determining the best route, taking into account factors such as traffic, road construction, vehicle size, and more.

Use the right vehicles to meet your business needs

You should look for the most efficient vehicles to meet your needs, depending on the size of your delivery operation. Finding the right vehicles can help you save money on fuel while also shortening the time it takes for your drivers to complete their routes.

The last thing you need is to add to your financial burden by purchasing larger, unnecessary vehicles. It could lead to wasted space and higher fuel costs. Think about investing in a large refrigerated truck. It’s great, and it gives you room to expand, but think about whether you’re using all of that space right now. If the answer is no, you can probably get by for the time being with something smaller.

Due to the detours they must take to fit under bridges, through narrow streets, or find parking, larger delivery vehicles may waste a little more time on the road.

It’s worth noting that the opposite is also true. Drivers must return to the warehouse to reload before completing all of their deliveries if their vehicles are too small for your current operation. This is both a waste of fuel and a waste of time.

These are issues that can be avoided if your vehicles are configured to meet your delivery needs.

Train your drivers to improve driver efficiency

Consider teaching your drivers how to drive more environmentally friendly. This can include things like reducing or limiting idling time, driving at a slower speed, and working to stick to a schedule.

Incentives for drivers with the lowest miles per gallon, the safest driving records, or the most accurate deliveries during a specific time frame, such as a quarter, are some tangible ways to put these changes into action.

Keeping your drivers happy through efficient driving practices can boost morale and boost your bottom line.

Oversee the entire process from start to finish

Some businesses delegate their home delivery services to third parties. It makes sense because it can take a lot off your plate. However, it may reveal some flaws and blind spots for you and your company.

When a third party manages your deliveries, for example, you have no visibility into where your products are or when they will arrive at their destination once they leave your depot. This means that if a customer is unhappy with a missing or late order, they will call you — and you will be unable to respond. This is infuriating for everyone.

Consider taking complete control of your last-mile delivery requirements, from start to finish. This will allow you to eliminate inefficiencies and ensure that this costly process is handled by someone who cares about your company.

Use of technology to communicate with drivers and customers

The best home delivery services keep in touch with both their drivers and their clients.

Maintaining good communication with your drivers can assist in resolving any issues they may encounter while on the road. Having a line of communication with the dispatcher is critical if there are any disputes or miscommunications about delivery details. It reassures your drivers that they are not alone and that they can rely on you for help.

Keeping in touch with your customers will keep them happy and reduce the number of phone calls asking where their orders are. Customer notifications come in handy in this situation.

How to optimize your team’s last mile delivery processes

Without getting too technical, route planning software exists to solve what is known as the Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP): the ability to plan and optimize routes based on time or distance while taking into account a variety of constraints. It quickly becomes complicated, which is why we solve the VRP and optimize our last-mile delivery using computers and algorithms.

However, not all algorithms are created equal. Some algorithms take a long time to run but produce excellent results. Other algorithms, on the other hand, process data quickly but produce sub-optimal results. It all depends on what’s most important to your company.

The most important takeaway here is that route planning software is critical for optimising last-mile delivery. You might end up wasting a lot of time and having a lot of headaches if you don’t have it.

Before orders can be delivered, you should use route planning software to make sure you or your drivers are using the most efficient route. This will save both time and money. Route planning software improves the speed and efficiency of your deliveries. As a result, you’ll have more time to concentrate on other aspects of your company.

Looking for a good route planning solution? EasyRoutes is a Shopify Staff Pick. It’s well reviewed, well supported, and offers free trials and plans for business of all sizes.

Learn more at the Roundtrip website, or install EasyRoutes directly from the Shopify App Store to start your 14-day free trial now.

About Roundtrip

Roundtrip's mission is to equip every business with the software tools they need to deliver products to their customers in a delightful way. Thousands of Shopify merchants worldwide choose EasyRoutes to power their local deliveries across dozens of product categories, from meal kits and groceries to coffee, cupcakes, kibble, and so much more. Our easy-to-use route planning and delivery optimization app is certified Built for Shopify, a two-time Shopify staff pick, and the top rated local delivery app on the Shopify App Store.

"Route planning used to take 1-2hrs every day, now it's almost completely automated with this app."
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