Rising customer demands are revolutionizing last mile delivery across retail. Shoppers today are demanding an unprecedented level of control over when, where, and how they purchase and receive goods and services.
But delivering efficient last-mile delivery services that are as convenient, flexible, and fast as your consumers are expecting is quite a challenge.
That’s where machine learning and delivery automation come in. New technologies are enabling more efficient, automated operations across the last mile, from the moment the order is placed to the moment it reaches the customer.
Automated Dispatch and Route Optimization
Driverless cars, drones, and other autonomous vehicles all have tremendous future potential to speed up deliveries and reduce delivery costs for companies. However, in the short term, companies should look for Artificial Intelligence (AI) delivery tools that aim to support drivers – not replace them.
Dynamic routing apps that suggest optimized routes for dispatchers, or software that shows the progress of drivers from multiple fleets on a single dashboard, can free up a dispatcher’s resources and provide concrete benefits to businesses from the first day of deployment. Similarly, services that give customers and dispatchers real-time visibility into where a package is at any given moment will massively improve the customer experience, and make deliveries more cost effective by reducing delivery bottlenecks.
Driver communication, progress, and oversight
Automating the delivery progress to include driver monitoring helps dispatchers spot problems or delays even before they talk with a driver. This is particularly useful for companies that utilize third party fleets, especially if they have no visibility into the driver’s working hours. A delivery automation system that plans routes also estimates the delivery time per order, so it’s easy to spot when a driver is loitering or delayed due to external factors.
Taking it a step further, a good delivery logistics ecosystem will integrate with online payment methods to manage driver payment more efficiently and accurately. In the restaurant and food delivery industries, drivers commonly perform other functions outside of the delivery rush hours, functions which often have different pay scales. A system that monitors when a driver is working can also track their entire work log, and keep track of the data to simplify salary calculation.
Let’s not forget the drivers themselves, who are the principal beneficiaries of more efficient channels of communication with dispatcher and the customers. With automated delivery communications tools, drivers can easily inform customers when the delivery is running late, and give customers additional delivery options – an alternative pick up location, or drop off time – that helps them maintain the delivery schedule without letting the customer down.
Digitize Communication with Customers
As with any business model, the best way to increase profits from online delivery is to ensure the best customer experience. Using automation tools to orchestrate delivery operations presents new ways of engaging with your customers and providing the delivery experience they now expect, whether in delivery speed or in convenient delivery options. Orders can be automated by storing a customer’s order history and preference, and by personalizing the language. Customers can have their desired control over their fulfillment experience if they are sent updates when a package is shipped to a warehouse or fulfillment center, when it leaves the center, when it’s reached a local pick-up location or when the arrival time estimation changes. Use the same communications channel that updated customers on their delivery’s progress, to follow up with a customer review that provides insight into customer satisfaction.
All of these automation use cases create a more efficient on-demand delivery process that enhances the customer experience, while reducing the ever-present costs associated with the last mile of delivery. And while automating delivery operations can come with its own set of challenges, being able to more easily and affordably control, monitor, and scale delivery is an opportunity that brands and delivery providers cannot ignore.