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ASCM Insights

3 Ways Final-Mile Partners Can Help Your Business

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The last mile of the distribution journey is arguably the most important step in the e-commerce or omnichannel process. This step directly connects the product with the consumer, and this is where the customer will have the most interaction with the supply chain. However, keeping last-mile delivery smooth is challenging because different customers have different expectations. Any bumps in the last-mile delivery road can create a poor experience, making customers less inclined to buy again.

But final-mile delivery partners have the expertise to help you succeed. Here’s how:

1. Offer the delivery options customers want. Issues with shipping options are among the top reasons why consumers abandon their online shopping carts. Research by Baymard Institute found that 60% of surveyed consumers abandoned their online shopping carts because of unexpected costs for taxes, shipping and other fees at checkout. Furthermore, 18% of consumers abandoned their carts because the delivery options were too slow.

Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to shipping, it is important that e-commerce companies offer a variety of options at a variety of price points in order to stay competitive. Empowering the customer to choose a suitable service and convenient delivery timeframe could mean the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart.

As outdoor products startup Leisure Outlet grew its e-commerce business to the point of shipping more than 30,000 packages a year, its leaders sought out ways to improve last-mile delivery. The Nottingham, U.K.-based company’s portfolio of more than 15,000 different products for camping, caravanning and outdoor sports requires a wide range of shipping and delivery options. However, company leaders wanted to offer customers this greater number of shipping options without adding any unnecessary operational overhead or cost. By partnering with a final-mile delivery partner, Leisure Outlet expanded its delivery options to offer click-and-collect, as well as 16 other delivery choices. This has led to a 10% increase in basket conversions.

2. Have the support to expand your business internationally. Expansion into global markets can be daunting and risky if the correct contingencies aren’t in place. Although third-party logistics providers are the experts in ensuring international supply chain continuity, a whole new level of expertise is required at a local level, where cultural differences and varying expectations provide new challenges. This is where a final-mile partner with global expertise can help.

The Premier League European football club, one of the highest-earning soccer clubs in the world, wanted to grow its international sales, but lacked the necessary technology and processes to do so. Its final-mile partner managed to cut the company’s international shipping costs by connecting it with the most effective in-country suppliers. In addition, the London-based club now leverages the final-mile partner’s network of local depots and vehicles to achieve greater flexibility. This means that the organization can use an optimum mix of suppliers and carriers based on performance and price while having the contingency to easily source extra capacity during peak periods. The final-mile partner also supplies a customer care team that swiftly resolves customer issues. 

Now the soccer merchandiser has a cost effective way to expand internationally and can offer a tailored experience to its customers wherever they are in the world. As a result, package volumes have increased by 600%.

3. Be prepared for the unexpected. COVID-19 sent shockwaves through supply chains around the world. Contingency planning is more important than ever during uncertain times. Teaming up with a final-mile partner will help ensure processes are flexible and agile enough to handle the unexpected.

A common contingency plan is to partner with multiple carriers so that you can change shipping methods quickly if any problems occur with one more carriers. However, it can be difficult and time-consuming for a company to manage multiple carriers on its own, as team members will have to keep track of multiple pick-up and drop-off times, multiple invoices, and varying labeling and tracking processes. The situation becomes even more challenging when returns are added to the mix. These challenges make it difficult for businesses to keep up during peak periods and make it virtually impossible to optimize sales.

Hampers.com, one of the largest privately owned gift set retailers in the world, decided to work with a final-mile partner to consolidate its multicarrier delivery management processes. Already using seven different carriers and shipping to more than 50 countries across multiple channels, the Hampers.com order fulfillment operation had become extremely challenging.  This, combined with variable demand and the potential for bad weather, carrier problems and technology system failures, meant the Oxfordshire, U.K.-based business was left open to risk — especially when shipping orders with perishable food. Hampers.com needed to simplify delivery in order to take control, reduce risk and ensure customers always received a good delivery experience.

Now the company uses one portal to manage 12 separate delivery services. In additional, all of the labeling, tracking and reporting is automated within this one piece of easy-to-use software. This changeover has enabled the company to cut its package-dispatching time in half and boosted customer satisfaction.

The bottom line is that collaborating with a final-mile partner enables businesses to offer a consistent customer experience, ensuring that the customer is at the heart of the process from point of sale to delivery. There no longer needs to be a gap between what the customer wants and what retailers and third-party logistics companies can provide internationally. Final-mile partners can drive your process all the way to the end.


Don’t miss DHL Vice President Innovation Americas, Gina Chung, speak about this topic at the ASCM Annual Conference on October 2 where she’ll present “Delivering the Future of Logistics: A Look at Key Innovations and Trends” and participate in a panel discussion, “Transportation and Logistics Trends to Watch in 2022 & Beyond.”

About the Author

Bobbie Ttooulis Executive Director , Global Freight Solutions

Bobbie Ttooulis is an executive director at Global Freight Solutions, a U.K.-based multi-carrier shipping and e-commerce delivery company. She may be contacted at bobbie.ttooulis@gfsdeliver.com.

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