Technology is advancing so quickly that our language to describe and explain it accurately is struggling to keep pace. As an example, with the myriad changes in the logistics industry, we're still only using one term—last mile tracking—to represent two different methods of new, advanced tracking.
Last mile carrier tracking falls into two unique types of tracking systems:
Last Mile Tracking, from the Customer Perspective
Never before have consumers been so empowered with ready information to aid them in their buying decisions and find the lowest prices and most convenient shipping possibilities. Companies need to provide a stellar delivery experience that will resonate with customers and keep them coming back.
Lyft, DoorDash, and Uber changed the entire game, and consumer expectations will never be the same. They now expect clear communication and real-time information funneled to them about their orders. They usually desire particular information, e.g. order tracking updates, delivered via a truck icon on a map, showing them exactly where the driver is with a live-updated ETA. They want to communicate with their fulfillment service providers and have the opportunity to rate their experience. And these expectations aren't exclusive to eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retail buyers—anyone who brings business to B2B or orders food and collects it from a logistics supplier is going to have expectations that are similar.
Tracking across the last mile for customers provides the ultimate delivery visibility, plus a sense of control they've come to expect. Just about any operation that ventures out to customer homes can reap the rewards of giving recipients last-mile tracking in this way.
How do you do it? For starters, several core requirements are necessary when building a smart system for customers to track their goods on the last mile:
- SMS notification the morning of delivery
- Capacity to easily communicate with the driver
- Tracking functionality for real-time ETAs via smartphone
- Opportunity to rate the encounter
As big tech keeps innovating around connectivity with customers, logistics management, and the dispatch and delivery process, more and more businesses across various segments will need to follow suit.
Tracking the Last Mile Internally
The other side of the last mile carrier tracking coin is this: tracking internally. In this rapidly evolving technology landscape, it takes more than improving customer-facing tools and services to stay competitive. Organizations need to take inventory of their inner operations so they can ensure they'll have no blind spots in their supply chain, and that's very important during the last mile phase.
The most important catalyst for lasting innovation, according to professional logistics operators, was visibility. Internal tracking and visibility of last mile activities are critical components of building a supply chain that is customer-focused.
Visibility into last mile operations requires a wide range of technological and methodological modifications to your supply chain:
- Package tracking after goods are loaded on your trucks
- A digital dashboard with real-time tracking of deliveries and service units
- Chain of custody or proof of delivery tools (ideally integrated via mobile app)
- A way to measure and understand customer satisfaction
We're talking about more than just having excellent visibility: last mile tracking improves operational speed and increases profitability by reducing inefficiencies.
Case in point: geo-fencing can track when a service unit or driver arrives at a pre-set distance from where they last delivered. From there, machine learning, in tandem with accurate tracking, could allow managers to test theories about delivery routes and protocols and learn how to get more out of their routing and customer ratings. Internal routing assists multiple purposes: it gives decision-makers full visibility of their supply chain (which covers the full view of the last mile) and can level up the service customers receive.
FAQ: Last Mile Carriers
How long does a last mile carrier take?
Usually, it takes between 8-10 business days with economy class service, 4-6 days with basic service, and 2 days with expedited service. In most situations, the time-consuming part of the process is the final mile, a.k.a. last mile, delivery to the customer's residence.
How does last mile delivery work?
Put plainly, last mile delivery is the transport of goods from a hub or transportation warehouse to its last destination, which in most cases is a consumer's private residence. The main objective of last mile delivery is to get items to the customer as quickly as possible while mitigating costs incurred to the business.
How much does last mile delivery cost?
Shipping on the last mile can take up to 41 percent of a shipment's total costs. e.g., if your cost of shipping is $500, approximately $205—over a third—of the cost would be taken up by the last mile.
Shipment Tracking vs. End-to-end Delivery Arrangement
To clarify, both customer-centric tracking and internal tracking require more than just having visibility into the last mile. The larger goal is constructing a highly-functional delivery system that is optimized at every phase, resulting in an increase in exceptional customer delivery interactions. Modernizing and bringing intelligence to your workflow for the complete supply chain is a big, key step to collecting delivery data to analyze and improve. After you do that, it's simpler to implement tracking apps and widgets for any of your organizational needs.
The end result? Greater transparency into your last mile, and more opportunities to proactively optimize deliveries.