Consumers now demand that brands provide them with outstanding delivery experiences. They're no longer happy with delayed or slow shipments. They even want the ability to track their packages in real-time.
In 2017, only six percent of companies surveyed by Geodis said that they had reached full supply chain visibility, while 77 percent said that they either have a restricted view or zero visibility over shipments.
Shipment visibility is more than just a buzzword in the industry these days—companies face mounting pressure to provide information on goods for delivery at any given time, and a lack of visibility on shipments can be a deal-breaker for many clients nowadays. Plus, the inability to track fleets in real-time makes last mile deliveries more challenging and costly. Luckily, there are ways to improve shipment visibility and gain a competitive advantage in the modern last mile.
What Are the Top Challenges in Last Mile Delivery?
Last mile deliveries account for more than 50 percent of overall shipping costs. It is both time consuming and an expensive part of the shipping process, and cutting down both time and expenses in this final stage can result in big cost savings.
Like we mentioned above, consumers these days want to receive their orders fast and track their orders in real-time. Failing to meet these customer demands can be a real issue, since delivery experience is now a primary brand differentiator. Customers who might be dissatisfied with the shipping options or delivery experience will be quick to take their business to a competitor.
Lack of data
It's hard for any company to spot trends, pain points, or opportunities for improvement when there is no reliable data regarding deliveries. Organizations without the proper technological solutions are almost blind when it comes to identifying areas for improvement in their delivery operations, which makes it difficult or impossible to get costs under control.
The last mile is inefficient by definition: setting the shortest route in a way that takes into account driver skill level, differences in service times, customer tiers, etc. is incredibly difficult—which means that delivery operations almost always underutilize their capacity. This underlying inefficiency makes it difficult to adapt flexibly and efficiently to changing circumstances.
What Are the Benefits of Improving Shipment Visibility?
Improving visibility on deliveries is increasingly a prerequisite in gaining a stronger brand following, beating the competition, and lowering operating costs. Why? Because of the many benefits of gaining better visibility over drivers and their shipments.
Live tracking and monitoring
Providing real-time visibility to dispatchers allow them to see where each asset in a given fleet is at any given time and offer the customer an accurate expected time of arrival (ETA). Real-time visibility also helps the customer team to manage the expectations of their clients regarding possible delays in the shipping of goods. Of course, accurate ETAs also depend on successful route optimization, but real exception management fundamentally requires both.
Better customer experience
Consumers want to know where their goods are at any given time. Providing them visibility on the shipment of orders satisfies this expectation. Not only does this have the potential to impact your NPS (i.e. net promoter score—which can have a direct correlation with revenue), it also helps you decrease the odds of failed deliveries. Why? Because if the customer knows that the truck containing their washing machine, medication, or food is just around the corner, they’re less likely to run out for an errand at an inopportune time.
Improved driver performance
Without telematics integration, fleet managers have historically had very little insight into drivers' performance on the road. But real-time tracking provides them a way of ensuring that drivers are being efficient, effective, and safe in their driving behavior and habits. This also empowers businesses to extend the useful lives of their fleets by monitoring the sorts of behaviors that increase wear and tear on assets.
How to Improve Shipment Visibility
So, how do shippers actually achieve shipment visibility and start to enjoy some of these benefits? Here are a few ways:
1. Centralize your logistics data
Aggregated data from fleets or external carriers are hard to track, and having data spread among multiple silos makes it less valuable. On the other hand, placing all data in a centralized location can help executives and fleet managers better understand the workings of their shipping and delivery processes.
2. Incorporate proof of delivery
Upgrading how employees capture proof of delivery goes a long way in improving shipment visibility end-to-end. Electronic proof of delivery also makes it easy for businesses to verify complaints of lost or damaged packages, and it can speed up billing and settlement processes.
3. Monitor driver performance
Tracking key metrics such as service times, on-time rates, number of parcels delivered, customer feedback, and total distance traveled is necessary these days—both for ensuring regulatory compliance and setting accurate routes in the future. Keeping track of how drivers perform provides businesses with deeper insights so they can spot the problematic areas of operations and improve them.
4. Provide automated notifications
Tracking orders live is just one way of improving visibility. Providing customers with automated notifications can also elevate the business' delivery services. Automated notifications can be sent when the delivery has already started, when there are potential delays to the delivery, and when the driver is nearby—effectively turning abstract visibility (i.e. real-time tracking) into something that directly impacts customer experience.
5. Use the right dashboard
Having a dedicated dashboard for visibility provides fleet managers with the information they need to spot problems quickly and proactively resolve them. Again, siloized information is less valuable than information that’s right at your fingertips when you need it. If you can see potential exceptions at a glance just by logging onto your computer, you can confidently assess what’s going right—and what requires your immediate attention.
Greater visibility on shipments is more important than ever. The ability to track assets, orders, and drivers helps in meeting increasing customer demands, eliminating operational inefficiencies, and cutting down costs. In the end, improving shipment visibility is key to helping businesses remain competitive.