So, you say data logging can be expensive and difficult. It’s also necessary if you want to protect the revenue and reputation of your food or pharmaceutical logistics company. It's especially difficult to collect data from the last mile of the supply chain. But it doesn't have to be expensive, difficult or time-consuming.
Spending time and resources on efficient operations is a drain on so many aspects of your business. It makes sense to look for the most efficient ways possible to log data and perform circumstance monitoring.
Do any of these sound like you?
- You're losing customers, or revenue is dropping.
- Your freight is arriving at its destination damaged.
- Your data is difficult to analyse.
- Your tracking experience is a hassle.
- It's so difficult to understand the supply chain that you can't make an effective budget.
If these do sound familiar, then you may have a problem with your last mile logistics.
The good news is simple data logging solutions are available for last mile, or final mile, logistics. This post takes a look at what exactly final mile logistics is, and why it's so important for today's B2C and B2B2C supply chains.
What is last mile logistics
Last mile logistics doesn't get a lot of attention, and it can be complicated to understand. Sometimes it doesn't even seem like it's very important, but the truth is that what happens in the final mile can count for more than a quarter of a shipment’s total cost. Now that e-commerce is growing to be such a huge industry, last mile logistics are more important than ever. And that means your company needs to be paying close attention to the data related to the final mile.
Although the name can be deceiving, last mile logistics isn't just about the freight carriers final part of the journey. It's about the entire final steps of the delivery process going from a distribution center or warehouse to the end user. So it's really the final part of the shipping process rather than the final single mile. In fact last mile logistics can actually refer to the last 50 miles or even the last 100 miles of the delivery trip.
It most often refers to small package carriers who deliver products to the actual consumer. Since so many people order products online now, this is a huge part of the shipping and freight industry. And even products like food and pharmaceuticals are being delivered straight to end-users now. This is a big change from when food and pharmaceutical freight was always delivered to grocery stores and pharmacies, for instance.
How last mile logistics affects omni-channel supply chains
Omni-channel supply chains are when companies keep the stock for online and physical stores in the same warehouses and ship them from the same facility and inventory. That means that they're keeping track of the inventory together, even though it may be sold from a different location. It also involves keeping inventory for multiple different online stores in the same facility and in the same inventory system.
This can be a huge benefit because it means that you only need to keep track of one inventory that gets updated across stores. With proper last mile logistics in place, these supply chains can become even more efficient by getting products to end users even faster. What we're talking about here are things like same-day delivery services or instant delivery.
These are the kinds of experiences that consumers are expecting today. And the best way to provide them is to have data about what happens at the end of e-commerce and omni-channel supply chains.
The thing is that the more food and pharmaceutical companies that start optimising their last mile logistics and offering next-day delivery and same-day delivery services, the more consumers are going to expect this. The rest of the logistics world is just going to have to catch up to the big companies leading last mile logistics.
Here's the catch
Of course there are some problems with final mile logistics and finding solutions for delivery technology. Companies' brand reputations are now staked on how quickly they can fulfil e-commerce orders. As we all know the reason people order from Amazon is because you can get fast Prime delivery. And Amazon is only continuing to improve their own final mile logistics by opening new facilities all over the world.
Where it gets tricky is most logistics companies are not as big as Amazon. That means they're going to need third-party partners to help them meet the expectations of their customers. The truth is that most companies are going to really struggle with trying to play on Amazon’s level.
Another issue is that some products are simply not as easy to ship and deliver. For instance, large products may need skilled workers to unpack them upon delivery or they may require special equipment to help unload them. There may be products that also require installation or assembly upon delivery. These are all things to consider for e-commerce companies trying to compete in logistics.
Logistics management is working to fix issues
New technologies continue to pop up that allow both shippers and carriers to track data in much greater detail, right at the shipping level. This is possible with wireless data loggers that are connected to cloud-based platforms.
Of course, the last bit of the journey, when the package is finally arriving to the consumer, is not only the most expensive and time-consuming part of shipping; it’s also the part most difficult to gain data about.
As an example, seeing that a product they ordered is “out for delivery” still doesn’t give consumers a very clear idea of when the item will actually arrive. It usually only indicates that the item is on the final delivery vehicle before reaching its destination, but it could still be hours before the item shows up. This can be a big deal when it comes to items that are humidity or temperature sensitive.
Additionally, this last leg has further concerns for e-commerce retailers because they have little control over things like delivery delays caused by traffic or damaged or misdelivered products—concerns that can happen at the final mile of the shipping process.
Fortunately, technology is catching up with some of these last mile concerns.
Did you enjoy this post? Don't hesitate to share it with a friend or colleague who might be interested, and check out the second part of the post next Tuesday!