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Last Mile Delivery Solutions: Why SaaS Is the Right Choice

Last mile delivery is such a crucial part of the fulfillment that in the last few years it’s become more and more pervasive in common parlance. Your average consumer knows—or thinks they know—a lot more about the final leg of the delivery process than ever before, and the result is that expectations are higher than ever across. last mile delivery solutions

That’s not the only reason that last mile delivery has been in the spotlight, but the fact remains that taking control of the final mile has become increasingly imperative for most delivery businesses. If you’re trying to take control of your last mile delivery operations, the odds are pretty good that you’re on the hunt for the right technology stack to give you clarity, visibility, and control across the entire last leg of the logistics chain. 

But how do you make sure you’re actually able to accomplish that? After all, there’s a glut of solutions out there that can be deployed in a host of different configurations, and it can be difficult to figure out the right approach for your business. 

In this article, we’ll make the case for why SaaS last mile delivery solutions are the right choice in virtually all cases, and we’ll go over some of the many ways SaaS solutions can help you overcome last mile challenges. 

How Does the Right Solution Impact Last Mile Delivery?

Getting a handle on your last mile deliveries can be a challenge. Getting the right goods to the right place at the right time is challenging enough, but it’s made even more difficult by things like customer time window requests, differences in service time across different delivery types, the need for visibility and documentation, and differences in crew skill and affinity. 

Without the right tools for the job, last mile deliveries can become a kind of black box—you’re finding a way to get the orders out, but you can’t say exactly when they’ll arrive, how effectively you’re utilizing your capacity, or how much each delivery or route is costing you. If there’s an exception anywhere along the line, you’re more than likely going to be blindsided by it. 

How to Choose the Right Last Mile Delivery Solution

The right solution can make a huge difference here by providing you with the clarity, control, and visibility you need to leverage last mile operations that are proactive rather than reactive.

Clarity: Your last mile delivery solution should be able to act as a single source of truth for the last mile, which means you can see how much capacity you have available when you’re routing deliveries and make sure you’re using the right crew and equipment for a given delivery. By integrating with point of sale, ERP, and other systems, the right solution helps ensure that you can see what’s happening both upstream in the supply chain and across the chain into other functions like sales, merchandising, or other areas. 

Control: When you don’t know what’s happening when your last mile deliveries are underway, you can’t keep things on track when disruptions and exceptions arise. Likewise when you can’t predict the effects of changes to your route plans. The right solution puts you in control by enabling you to simulate potential route changes via what-if scenarios—all while giving you the tracking and communication tools you need to swiftly step in to resolve situations on the day of delivery using the right resources at the right time. 

Visibility: Knowledge is power—as long as it’s the right knowledge at the right time. SaaS-based last mile solutions can ensure that the right data sources are connected and that you’re getting the information you need before it goes out of date. This is partially about interconnectivity, but it’s also about UI design. The information about what’s happening across the last mile needs to be not just available but easy to decipher at a glance. 

In practical fact, that means you should look for a technology solution that offers these capabilities:

  • Real-time delivery visibility “control tower”
  • Rapid, precise, and accurate route optimization—for dynamic, static, and hybrid routes
  • Configurable, two-way customer communications across the entire delivery lifecycle
  • Total connectivity with drivers via an easy-to-use mobile app
  • Instant proof of delivery
  • Easy integration with other solutions

All of these requirements point you in a clear direction: the cloud. On-prem software deployments tend to be harder to integrate with other delivery software solutions. At the same time, they can’t offer the same ease of use and deployment that cloud solutions offer. 

Sure, when you adopt an on-premise solution you have more control over how it works—but that added control comes with a steep price. You have to update the software manually, there’s no guarantee of ongoing support, and the only roadmap is the one you can create in between more pressing matters like actually planning and executing deliveries. 

With a SaaS solution, this equation is turned on its head. You can implement the software quickly, integrate it easily, and then work with confidence that you’re always running the latest version with the most up-to-date features. 

This isn’t just nice-to-have—it’s crucial when it comes to ensuring ongoing visibility and connectivity and ultimately future-proofing your delivery operations.

Overcoming Challenges in Last Mile Logistics 

By adopting SaaS-powered last mile delivery solutions like what we described above, delivery businesses can overcome a host of impactful last mile logistics challenges. 

Responding to last-minute customer requests:

Your customers want their orders when they want them—no matter how complex it might be for you to fulfill them at the last minute. But the key to staying flexible when it comes to last-minute delivery requests (whether that’s requesting an off-day delivery from a food distributor, a same-day shipment of building supplies, or even a replacement appliance) is to ensure end-to-end visibility, which is exactly what SaaS solutions offer. When a last minute order comes in, you can immediately see the path forward for getting it routed, scheduled, and delivered without losing out on efficiency.

Getting more out of your delivery capacity:

One thing that we hear a lot from delivery businesses is that they know they should be able to deliver all their orders with the number of trucks they have, but they still find themselves strapped for capacity and seeking outside help to get orders completed. Cloud-based solutions can help businesses improve their capacity utilization by enabling faster, more scalable routing (i.e. the ability to generate an optimized route plan in a matter of minutes) and paving the way for more transformative technologies like AI and machine learning to boost efficiency even further. 

Preventing failed deliveries:

Some of the most significant costs that come from last mile deliveries come down to redelivery attempts, unplanned returns, and failed deliveries. Luckily, the right last mile delivery solution can make a huge difference here. By enabling you to send out a customized cadence of customer communications, the right technology can enable you to connect with your customer earlier and more often. When you keep them in loop with updates and reminders throughout the process, you can turn up potential cancellations long before the orders are loaded into trucks—saving money and time in the process. 

At the end of the day, the choice of what software solutions to leverage for your last mile can be challenging. But in this day and age, one aspect of the decision has become a no-brainer: opting for cloud based last mile delivery solutions.

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