As eCommerce adoption continues to rise, so will consumer expectations. In other words, the modern online shoppers desire fast and convenient shipping with little to no additional cost, which can be a challenge for to the order fulfillment ecosystem.
Last-mile delivery, which is the last leg of the logistics, is perhaps the most difficult, inefficient, time-consuming, and expensive part of the entire supply chain and is also fraught with many challenges that negatively impact consumers’ shopping experience and their long-term loyalty.
This post explores some of these challenges and how cross-border eCommerce logistics can actionably navigate stumbling blocks to deliver a better shopping experience to consumers.
Despite the steady growth of global eCommerce in the past decade, the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a trigger for what we experience today.
For starters, many brick-and-mortar stores that suffered from the global lockdowns of 2020 began a transition to eCommerce, a trend that continues even as the world gradually returns to normal two years later.
On the customer side, consumers are as sophisticated as ever. They are engaging more in social commerce through their mobile devices while demanding more personalized shopping experiences and same or next day deliveries at low costs. Fast shipping is now a priority for many consumers, as only 20 percent of them are willing to forgive merchants for shipping disruptions.
With customer loyalty hanging in the balance, eCommerce service providers need to develop creative ways to address order fulfillment, especially when it comes to last-mile delivery, which is obviously lacking.
What may seem like one-click ordering to the consumer is an entire supply chain to a manufacturer. All consumer products online and even in brick-and-mortar stores are produced through a coordinated network from the first production step to the final end-product.
Last-mile delivery, which is part of this network, is the final lap of the order fulfillment contract in which the product moves from a hub to the final consumer's intended destination. The last mile is the most difficult part of the delivery process and has been a conundrum for eCommerce companies globally.
But eCommerce brands do not shoulder the burden of last-mile deliveries alone; even logistics and delivery companies lose business and money largely due to the challenges associated with last-mile delivery. Therefore, in order to make last-mile delivery as efficient and effective as possible, all eCommerce logistics participants need to be able to identify the issues boggling last-mile and their root causes.
Challenges of last-mile deliveries do not happen in isolation and are often due to a compendium of issues that include:
1. Poor Infrastructure
The state of infrastructure can either make or break last-mile delivery. For last-mile delivery to remain efficient and reasonably priced, adequate transportation, communication, and logistics infrastructure must be in place. Lack of therein often results in some of the supply chain disruptions we currently witness.
2. High Cost of Delivery
Inadequate capital often limits the effectiveness of last-mile delivery operations, which translates to the high cost of delivery, creating a sort of chicken and egg scenario.
3. Opaque Practices
It is common for the effectiveness of last-mile delivery to be hindered by obscurity in the entire transportation process. Improper communications between logistics stakeholders and the absence of technological mandates usually affect the critical balance required for last-mile delivery to thrive.
4. Poor Route Planning
Last-mile delivery depends on the strategic organization to thrive, and its absence is often a recipe for disaster. Logistics partners are likely to have no predictive and preventive procedures that could impact parcel movements from one point to another, negatively impacting delivery times and costs.
Although last-mile delivery is a costly, time-consuming endeavor for both the retailers and their customers, it is a necessary measure to fulfill orders. The key to success is improving delivery efficiency and forging creative ways to get the products to the consumer quickly and cheaply.
eCommerce logistics stakeholders can do the following to mitigate the negative impacts of the last-mile problem:
1. Effective Real-Time Communications
The crucial nature of effective communications in logistics can't be over-emphasized, and it also relates to last-mile delivery. The journey to effective communication depends on using the right technology, equipment, and a recognized policy toward transport communications. eCommerce logistics stakeholders need to carefully merge these elements together to make communication effective.
2. Technological Adoption
Implementing technological-based solutions could take last-mile delivery efforts from mediocre to top-notch as they enhance the decision-making process, provide predictive and preventive solutions, and improve general logistics operation efficiency. Technological solutions can either be software-based (using AI and machine learning) or hardware.
3. Optimize Delivery Routing
Delivery routing bottlenecks are responsible for some of the inefficiencies facing last-mile delivery today, and the best way to mitigate these stumbling blocks is by optimizing delivery. Logistics stakeholders can do so through careful route planning or employing predictive scheduling tools that offer dynamic routing information to relevant players.
4. Outsourcing to 3PL
Perhaps the best way for eCommerce merchants to navigate last-mile delivery challenges is to outsource the final delivery process to experienced and qualified logistics partners. These players have all the resources, infrastructure, and manpower to handle the challenges posed by last-mile delivery.
In this way, eCommerce merchants can focus on delivering quality products while the logistics partner deals with order fulfillment. This not only increases consumer satisfaction but also increases the consumer's own value.
Last-mile delivery is a complex process with numerous players and divergent interests. Yet it's a process that feeds into the greater supply chain, with expectations to continue expanding in the coming years.
Therefore, parties need to keep innovating and improving on last-mile delivery operations through some of the aforementioned solutions and identify their respective roles in the chain so that we can move forward in unison towards a truly efficient and streamlined supply chain.
Navigating the challenges of last-mile delivery requires a wholesome approach. But perhaps the complete piece of the puzzle is the need for a reliable third-party logistics partner that understands the intricacies of last-mile delivery. Having an experienced and reliable partner will definitely provide the best solution to the last-mile challenge and could take customer satisfaction to the next level. Therefore, you are best served by going for YunExpress.
With over 50 global partners, YunExpress offers seamless product delivery worldwide. YunExpress has been a top name in cross-border logistics for years and has delivered cargo to over 10,000 clients. Supply chain disruption or not, YunExpress delivers. Visit YunExpress for more information on logistics features.
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