Make or Break Your Brand Leveraging Last-Mile Delivery Tech
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Apr 04, 2023
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I was in the middle of a remodel, looking for the finishing touches that would make the new living room feel more like home. I found an online retailer with some unique items I thought would be perfect. Their ecommerce site was 5-star, easy to shop, and easier to order. I placed my order, got my shipping confirmation, and then I waited. And waited. Fourteen days and four customer service calls later, my boxes finally arrived. By the time they arrived, I was so annoyed I didn’t really care anymore.
I’ve moved on from that experience and from that retailer. These folks seemed genuinely surprised when I told them I wouldn’t purchase from them again. It appears there are still ecommerce sellers that haven’t figured out that the delivery experience matters. It matters a lot. Delivery is the final touch point in ecommerce sales, and your last-mile carrier is an extension of your brand. If they fail, you fail, and your brand reputation suffers.
Don’t get caught in a time warp
Much of the logistics industry is caught in a time warp, locked into 2010 (or earlier) processes and technology. Legacy carriers have huge investments in aging technology and infrastructure and are still trying to bleed those existing assets.
There’s a better way.
Leading-edge technology empowers the fast and flawless delivery experience consumers are looking for. There’s a new generation of last mile carriers; technology-first companies who are looking at logistics through a digital lens and applying the latest tech – AI, data modeling, predictive analytics, advanced API, and webhooks – that enables sellers to extend and promote their brands through the last mile delivery experience.
Right package, right place, right time
Your customer is looking for their package to be delivered to the right place at the right time. Most legacy and modern carriers are reasonably good at this, or they wouldn’t remain in business very long. But there are three areas where tech-first carriers are leveraging technology to gain a distinct advantage:
- Dynamic routing – advanced algorithms aggregate packages into dense delivery routes that can change daily. This allows a more predictable delivery window, lower cost, and a more efficient (and sustainable) delivery than traditional set delivery routes
- Exception resolution – a combination of predictive data modeling, exception handling algorithms, and the ability for drivers to communicate directly with end customers when all else fails can reduce the number of non-deliverable returns
- Tracking technology – online tracking that allows sellers and customers to see the location of packages in real-time
One of the most frustrating things about my personal experience above was that I had no visibility of where my package was, and it seemed like the retailer didn’t know either. They would send me the tracking code, I would get on the unnamed national shipper’s site to see it was “en route” whatever that means. The right technology solves that in that it doesn’t generalize where your package is; it actually tells you where it is and when it will get to you. But better than that, modern shippers can get your goods often in a timely manner, certainly under fourteen days. More on-time, predictable deliveries and fewer non-deliverable returns go a long way in boosting the reputation of your brand.
Make it personal / Promote your brand
If you’re using a legacy carrier, chances are your customers know it. They see the carrier’s logo on the package label, on the delivery truck, on the driver’s uniform, on the tracking website, and on every canned status message they receive, which begs the question, “Whose brand are you actually promoting?” What if your last mile carrier could make it all about you instead of all about them?
It starts with custom messaging. Every carrier sends some form of status update, but most send a limited number of canned messages and provide little opportunity for personalization. We think you should get to choose what messages are sent, when they are sent, and what they say. The messages should look like they came from you, not a third party. Custom messaging is an opportunity to extend your brand; to communicate directly with your customer in a way that personalizes the experience.
It shouldn’t end with messaging. Instead of giving your customers a link to a carrier-branded tracking page, a few simple steps to implement APIs can allow you to direct your customer to your branded tracking page for a full white-label experience. The customer never needs to know if it is Carrier X or Y delivering their package – they know that you are keeping them up to date on the status of their package and that you’re available to help them when issues come up.
The ability to customize messaging and even provide a full white-label experience allows you to extend your brand and build a more positive relationship with your customer. We make these capabilities available because we think a last-mile delivery provider should be more concerned with building your reputation than building their own.
The right technology improves on-time delivery rates, reduces the number of non-deliverable returns, enhances the customer experience, and allows you to communicate your message to your customer every step of the way from the moment the package goes out your door until the moment it is placed on your customer’s doorstep. Technology is the driver for providing customers the delivery experience they expect and promoting your brand in the process.