Sometimes the sheer number of tools it takes to accept customer orders and deliver them at the right time can seem totally overwhelming. Depending on how you orchestrate your deliveries, you need some combination of a point of sale (PoS), warehouse management system (WMS), transport management system (TMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and last-mile delivery solution. Somehow, all of these disparate solutions have to add up to one process that carries customer orders through the supply chain all the way to successful fulfillment.
In addition to adding complexity to managing the supply chain in general and last mile deliveries in particular, this state of affairs also adds complexity to your vendor selection process. How does the new WMS you’re looking at integrate with your PoS? Can the delivery management software you’re considering work with your route accounting solution?
In this piece, we argue that answering those questions during the vendor selection can be just as important as finding the right features and functionality—which is why it's so important to find a last-mile delivery solutions company that prioritizes connectivity.
Why You Should Choose a Last-Mile Delivery Solutions Company That Offers Connectivity
It’s a natural response when challenges arise to go out and try to find a new solution that can help. With delivery getting more and more competitive, last mile logistics solutions to improve operational efficiency across different supply chain functions are becoming more sought after. But the big risk that comes with this kind of best-of-breed approach is the possibility of creating silos around areas that rightfully ought to synergize.
There are plenty of software solutions that work well in automating supply chain tasks that were once characterized by manual record-keeping and tracking. But different solutions that don’t work together in sync can wind up lessening your efficiency in managing end-to-end operations.
On the other hand, a software ecosystem made up of connected solutions can have a huge impact on your business. The right logistics solutions pave the way for growth by connecting teams, external tools, data, and processes—and when that connectivity stretches from point of sale to the middle mile to warehouse to delivery and beyond, you can take a smarter, more holistic approach to delighting your customers. At the same time, you can stay agile by adding and removing tools as needed.
The trick is finding the right last-mile delivery solutions company—i.e. one that offers robust connectivity with other solutions.
The Benefits of Improving Connectivity in Delivery Management
When your solutions connect and integrate easily, you can avoid information and decision-making silos, thereby smoothing out the entire supply chain from end. Below are some of the most important benefits of prioritizing connectivity in your supply chain technology:
Smarter Dispatch and Routing
Last mile delivery systems can help you find the optimal drivers, loads, and routes to get your deliveries done on time. These capabilities on their own give you the power to reduce delivery costs via shorter routes between stops. But when you take a holistic approach that leverages data from other touchpoints, you can also ensure that your routes are optimal relative to what’s in stock at which local distribution centers. By the same token, you can leverage telematics data to ensure your routes are actually in compliance with your drivers’ availability and hours of service limits. These are just two examples of how you can empower smarter route optimization when data flows easily between systems.
Greater visibility means having more opportunities to act in a data-driven way. Delivery management software can help track and generate data on order locations on routes, inventory locations, customer status, and so on. On its own, if the data moves quickly enough and can be accessed in an intuitive way, this gives you the ability to more quickly spot and manage exceptions on the last mile.
But what if you thought of the last mile delivery experience as part of the larger customer purchase experience? Then, you might integrate delivery systems with your CRM, such that delivery exceptions could immediately be flagged for the sales team to manage from a client-relations perspective. All of a sudden, a late delivery goes from an annoyance to another opportunity for you to demonstrate how much you’re looking out for your customers.
Every manager and team depends on good reporting and dashboards in managing delivery operations. Supply chain management involves so many specialists, and each of them needs specific information at specific times. For example, a regional manager must see the key performance indicators (KPI) for every fleet and location in their region, while dispatchers might need more granular visibility into driver availability and hours, etc.
A platform that provides each team member across the supply chain access to the data they need to perform the task properly is a platform that can offer true agility. And when you partner with a last-mile delivery solutions company that prioritizes quick access to the right data—regardless of where that data originates—you can leverage that agility into smarter operations at every level.
Delightful Customer Experiences
Companies often focus on factors affecting last-mile deliveries such as real-time updates, order tracking, and on-time delivery to improve consumer satisfaction—and rightfully so! But at the end of day, no individual part of the customer experience exists in a vacuum. To truly deliver at the right time for your customers and keep your delivery promises, your technology needs to be set up around that goal. That means integrating systems in such a way that you never lose sight of the customer’s needs and you can make agile, informed decisions to ensure a great experience every time.
In the end, individual software solutions can help improve your company's operational efficiency. But given the complexity of modern supply chain processes, building a future-proof system for delighting your customers depends on integrated systems that all work together and inter-communicate. That’s why finding last mile delivery that integrates effectively with WMS, PoS, and other systems is so crucial to increasing operational efficiency and cutting down costs at every layer of supply chain management.