The New and Game-Changing Technology Solutions Redefining Last-Mile Logistics

The New and Game-Changing Technology Solutions Redefining Last-Mile Logistics

Feature Article by Nishith Rastogi, Founder and CEO at Locus

 

From stocking up your fridge with the week’s groceries to purchasing the latest smartphone, the consumer has now been placed at the center of the supply chain as they pull the complete gamut of products to where they reside.

This unprecedented level of consumer convenience results from years of consistent efforts made by tech companies to make deliveries faster and less expensive. They also continue to roll out features to better the consumer experience such as customizable delivery schedules and the ability to make special delivery requests like no-contact delivery. The most obvious example is Amazon: According to a McKinsey article, it has spent the better part of two decades reducing the delivery times of its US-based delivery services from eight days in the 2000s to one day in 2019.

That’s an 87.5% drop, and it continues to set new standards for delightful post-purchase customer experiences. As a result, the time that consumers are willing to wait for their purchases has reduced to hours and sometimes even minutes. Another consumer survey by McKinsey noted more than half of the consumers in the US would switch to the competition if they had to wait too long for the shipment of their delivery, a sentiment that consumers across the globe can relate to.
With such high stakes comes a unique opportunity at the last mile: A chance to stand apart in an increasingly competitive market through truly memorable post-purchase experience.

 

Solving for scale and complexity with technology

 

These days, the press of a button on an app initiates a complex fulfillment process into action. Like a baton in a relay race, every order exchanges many hands before they reach a customer’s doorstep.

The complexity of fulfilling orders grows exponentially as the number of order increase. At first glance, last-mile logistics planning boils down to finding the quickest possible route between two points. When you have two points, it is still manageable to take care of these tasks manually. But as the number of stops increases, the possible permutations and combinations make it nearly impossible for an average person to devise an optimal route to make these deliveries according to schedule.

This is where technology can play a critical role in keeping millions of customers happy with on-time deliveries and a delightful post-purchase consumer experience. Advancements in many areas such as the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, among others, have shown logistics players new ways to make the last-mile fulfillment process efficient in meeting shorter timeframes at lower costs and at scale. These technology solutions harness the power of two functions to achieve growth automation and insights. Some key technology solutions include:

Geocoding solutions: The inability to accurately locate addresses is a major contributor to delays and poor consumer experience. Geocoding solutions convert fuzzy addresses into unique latitude and longitude coordinates, so that drivers can provide the seamless delivery experience that consumers expect.

Slot management: Particularly useful for home service companies, on the one hand, it allows consumers to choose the most convenient slots for the fulfillment of orders or service requests. On the other, it automates the assignment of tasks to drivers and skilled professionals to maximize the workforce’s potential.

Order management: automates the order capture process, its allocation to different vehicles, and even the reassignment of returns and failed deliveries on the basis of real-life constraints. It also manages the influx orders and allocates them to the fleet in the most efficient way, and tracks and updates their status. Order management also has the ability to club together numerous different orders that fall under one particular area, thereby reducing fuel consumption.

Carrier Management: It can be a tough call to quickly decide on a reliable third-party logistics partner at reasonable rates when fleet capacity is suddenly required to be expanded to effectively deliver a huge shipment of orders. To that end, Carrier management solutions automatically assign orders to trustworthy third-party logistics service providers based on service level agreements, location, distance, delivery priority, and cost.

Route planning: These solutions are the heart of any efficient and large-scale last-mile logistics operation. It uses advanced algorithms to come up with the most efficient route for drivers. Route planning solutions learn from millions of deliveries made in the past to make each delivery more efficient than the last. They account for hundreds of real-life constraints such as distance, traffic, roadblocks, fuel consumption, service level agreements (SLAs) etc. to create routes that help save time and reduce fuel costs by cutting down on empty miles driven. In this way, they also empower drivers to make more deliveries in a single shift.

Control Towers: These solutions provide complete visibility to logistics personnel to monitor the status of orders and carriers in real-time, and warn of any potential SLA breaches through automated alerts. Control Towers come particularly in handy to tackle inevitable and unpredictable snags in the fulfillment process and minimize delays.

Tracking pages: They provide end-to-end visibility to consumers with turn-by-turn updates on the status of their orders. Consumers also receive alerts if the delivery has been delayed so that their expectations can be managed. These pages can also offer seamless communication channels between the customer and the driver or customer support teams for any concerns and valuable feedback that might improve their overall experience.

Analytics Engines: These solutions can analyze billions of data points to uncover hidden inefficiencies or even new avenues to grow. Businesses then use these insights to further tweak their operations to achieve efficiencies at scale, and they are readily accessible through intuitive charts, auto-generated reports, and intuitive dashboards.

 

The age of the platform

 

Ease of use and convenience is a quality prized by not just consumers, but logistics players as well. They need to be able to unlock new levels of efficiency to be able to handle the large number of orders they receive in a day. This requires them to cut down on repetitive tasks, make sure that any new technology solutions they have onboarded are in sync with existing ones, have their notifications and alerts streamlined, and consolidate multiple views to improve the visibility of operations.

Stakeholders need to see improvements on the ground as quickly as possible. This is why bypassing the frictions of the entire product procurement process to have these solutions up and running is also highly valued. As a result, logistics technology companies are offering their product range as a platform and not individual solutions. A Platform-based ecosystem allows businesses to access solutions in a plug-and-play manner. They can easily onboard new solutions according to their requirements in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months. These solutions are available as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that can be easily and quickly integrated with existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.

 

To sum up

 

In a business landscape where delivery timeframes grow shorter and consumer expectations continue to rise, achieving growth would seem like a pipe dream. In fact, given the high costs of last-mile fulfillment, it has become indispensable to providing memorable consumer experiences at scale while keeping costs in check. Advancements in technology have now made it possible to bring scalable growth across all key points of last-mile fulfillment, right from order management to route planning and advanced analytics capabilities to see meaningful growth in new directions.About the Author” heading_tag=”h5″ alignment=”left”]

Nishith Rastogi is Founder and CEO of Locus, a real-world ready dispatch management platform enabling clients across 30+ countries to achieve last-mile excellence with over 650 million deliveries and counting. He is responsible for business expansion across geographies and heads product innovation. Before founding Locus, he worked for Amazon, where he built algorithms to counter credit card fraud. Nishith also co-founded RideSafe, a real-time route deviation detection application for women’s safety. He is a published author in experimental physics and holds patents in Machine Learning.[vc_text_separator title=”MORE FROM THIS EDITION” border=”no”][vc_single_image image=”18340″ img_size=”medium” qode_css_animation=””][ult_layout layout_style=”4″ list_style=”6″ s_image=”0″ s_excerpt=”0″ s_categories=”0″ s_metas_o=”0″ s_metas_t=”0″ quick_view=”0″ taxonomies=”post_tag” price_font_weight=”” atcb_font_weight=”” title_font_weight=”normal” title_font_style=”normal” title_text_transform=”capitalize” metas_font_weight=”” excerpt_font_weight=”” filter_font_weight=”” tab_font_weight=”” pagination_font_weight=”” title_font=”Lato” title_font_size=”12pt” i_taxonomies=”338, 339″ d_i_filter=”338″]