For e-commerce customers, there is nothing more frustrating than a poor delivery experience.
“My most frustrating experience is when I get a notification that my package has arrived and I go outside and look and it’s not there, and I look around … and then a couple of hours later it arrives,” Penelope Register-Shaw, chief strategy officer for The FrontDoor Collective, a group of networked delivery service providers, said during a panel on last-mile delivery offerings during last week’s Home Delivery World 2021 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
The panelists – Register-Shaw; John Garda, senior director for CVS Health; Dinesh Dixit, vice president of account management at LogiNext; and Nate Wells, head of global transportation for StockX – tackled the complicated issue of last-mile delivery and how shippers could create customer offerings to improve the service.
“We have seven major carriers in the U.S. … and they are at capacity,” Gorda said. “You need to diversify; you need to have other carriers.”
And that was a common theme that ran through the entire discussion, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for traditional methods of shipping. Dixit said companies need to put the right policies and the right technology in place to succeed.
“If it doesn’t work, fail fast and move on,” he said.
Gorda agreed. “You have to be nimble. We ship from over 9,800 stores. We’ve tried many things, [but it comes back to] how do we get there faster?”
Wells, whose firm specializes in authenticating and shipping custom and collectible merchandise, said companies need to think differently. “You have to ask, ‘What is the voice of the customer?’” he said. “Have your finger on the pulse of the customer because it is not one size fits all.”
Dixit agreed, saying that a lot of the innovation taking place in last-mile delivery is due to companies listening to the voice of the customer. Wells laid out four strategies to do that: Listen, try it, measure it, and if you are losing, stop.
“It is so important to find the right answer and then not sit there and think that for the next 10 years you don’t have to do anything,” Register-Shaw added.
Register-Shaw advised firms to set clear success markers before starting a pilot, though.
“I’m a big believer in knowing what success metrics are before you go into a program,” she said. “I’ve seen some really good ideas abandoned too quickly because the success metrics changed.”
Much of the pressure is occurring because of technology, Gorda said.
“There is so much pressure on delivery because you have so much visibility,” he noted. “It’s important to stay on top of your game.”
As e-commerce bumps into the holiday peak season, Gorda said shippers need to build partnerships with carriers now and “diversify the base of carriers, which makes it easier to find capacity.”
“Be dynamic, be diversified,” Wells summed up.