This year’s eDelivery EXPO research findings make it clear that the final mile can literally make or break the customer relationship. Poor delivery practices will mean that not only will customers avoid buying from you again - but they’ll be sure to tell others.
This short final leg in the shipping journey is disrupting the market, and businesses are rightly adopting new technology to help keep up, to mitigate costs and to protect their brand reputation. But the human element involved in accessing and using that technology is equally as important.
In this article we look at why the human aspect of the last mile holds the key to customer satisfaction.
What is the Last Mile?
The last mile is the term used in the industry to describe the final stage of the delivery journey. When the product leaves the warehouse and is loaded onto a van for delivery to its final destination, that's last mile delivery.
Many of the industry's big names, including Amazon, are investing heavily in last mile technology. Customers want their parcels delivered as soon as possible, and Amazon believes that advances such as drone delivery could help with those demands.
At the 2016 Nordic delivery conference, some of the biggest names in the industry talked about last mile logistics. They discussed innovations such as drones, droids, robots, and self-driving cars. But they also sounded a note of caution.
Don't Forget the People
At the Nordic Conference, anthropologist, Anna Kirah, spoke about the human element of the last mile. In her presentation, she talked about the necessity of having a people-centric approach, something that she has used throughout her career which has included working for Boeing on the design of a new aircraft. Innovation strategist, Bill Connor made a further point that leaving the people out of the delivery equation (using drones and bots, for e.g.) ultimately leads to increased isolation in our society.
And It’s not just the dopamine hit of human interaction or the fear of isolation that makes the last mile better with humans involved. There’s also the common-sense advantage.
Even the most sophisticated robot would struggle to deal with certain last mile challenges. Despite progress in Deep Learning development, machines are only able to operate within the narrow confines of their programming, while human beings are natural innovators. When things go awry, human beings will come up with a better solution than a robot.
What the Last Mile Means to Us
Ultimately, the last mile gives companies an opportunity to deliver satisfaction to the customer. Technology is offering opportunities to speed up that delivery, but customers may still prefer to see a human being with their parcel. Our focus is on ensuring that the human beings involved in delivering at the end of that last mile are supported by the technology that they’re given to use, rather than overwhelmed or impeded by it.
While it’s necessary to introduce tech to meet last mile challenges, it is also necessary that humans remain involved. We like to make sure that those two things come together to optimise the experience for everyone involved. We encourage thinking about how the technology you buy is going to be used in more practical terms and what hardware is required to facilitate the process.
In some cases, where an off-the-shelf solution doesn’t suit requirements a more bespoke approach might be required. Over the years 51T have worked on a number of bespoke designs for clients from designing and manufacturing PayPal Card Readers to Parcel Kiosk - building a reputation for addressing challenges others walk away from. It’s all part of a comprehensive solutions-based approach enjoyed by some of the best resellers in the market today.
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