last mile delivery for small businesses

Everything You Need to Know About Last Mile Delivery for Small Businesses

What is last mile delivery?

Lots of small businesses tend to concentrate their focus on the production and marketing stages, but if you’re not able to deliver your products safely, smoothly, and on time to your customers, your previous efforts won’t have the desired effect on your business. This is where last mile delivery becomes important, and it’s directly connected to revenue, consumer experience, and overall growth.

In simplest terms, last mile delivery refers to the very end of the supply chain, the part where your products travel from your business or warehouse to another business or residential address. If you are selling to wholesale accounts, or planning on doing so, last mile delivery is a must. And as the number of people preferring home deliveries over in-store shopping continue to rise even after the pandemic restrictions ease, it is paramount that your business offers this service for smaller orders as well.

High Expectations

However, just offering delivery services is not enough; since this is the customer-facing part of your business, it is also extremely important that everything goes smoothly, consistently.

With big brands like Amazon and Walmart continuously raising expectations, customers are now accustomed to faster and faster deliveries at a lower or even at no cost, so the stakes are higher than ever. 55% of consumers also say that they stop shopping from certain brands after a few late or problematic deliveries. Since small businesses are dependent on customer loyalty and good brand reputation, last mile delivery can make or break your business.

Operational Challenges

Providing seamless deliveries with impeccable customer service comes with a big price tag. According to Business Insider, last mile accounts for 53% of all delivery costs, and it can cost up to one-third of the total cost of a product, which can be a lot of investment for a small business.

This is not even taking into account the constant planning and monitoring that the deliveries will require, since there are so many different factors at play. As your sales grow and you scale your business, the risk of issues arising during delivery multiply exponentially, and can reach a point where it’s impossible for you to keep up with everything. In fact, delivery operations can even be considered as a separate business that needs as much attention as your primary one.

How to Successfully Handle Last Mile Deliveries?

Despite there being so many challenges associated with last mile delivery, when executed well, offering this service can be an amazing asset to your small business. Here are some key elements you should pay attention to when you are dealing with deliveries.

Optimize Your Routes

According to Mapillary, poorly planned routes cost businesses nearly $6 billion! They estimate that wasted salary accounts for $2.5 billion of that, and another $611 million is due to map issues and driving extra miles.

If you’re a small business, all of those unnecessary expenses can hurt your company, and the wasted time and resources will result in leaving a lot of money on the table and losing out on business opportunities.

Unfortunately, most small businesses either do not optimize their deliveries, or they do it manually which is very time-consuming. If you will be handling deliveries in house, make sure you have a good route optimization system that is fairly easy to manage and adjust. Your business will thank you.

Be Transparent

Did you know that 93% of customers want to track their product deliveries at every step of the way? Another 52% state that they will pay for products or services only if they feel the company will provide a speedy and efficient delivery service. More than half of your customers will also drop off after a few late delivery incidents. No pressure.

To alleviate worries, keep your customers posted, and appropriately handle any hiccups that may arise during last mile delivery, you should set up a good GPS tracking system on your drivers’ devices or vehicles. By knowing where the products are at any given time, and having an ETA provided for each stop, you can give more accurate information to the recipients and ensure that your customers are satisfied.

Instructing your drivers to notify your customers close to delivery time to give them a heads up is another service they will appreciate, and your phones won’t be ringing off the hook about when the packages will arrive.

You should also make proof of delivery photos a routine part of your operations. It will give you peace of mind about everything arriving safely, and in the event that something goes wrong, you will have records to refer to so you can resolve issues quickly.

The recipients receiving those photos will also affect their overall satisfaction with the experience, especially if they were not home to receive their package at delivery time. Establish clear communication to exceed customer expectations.

Check Your Insurance

Transportation business comes with a lot of risks. In the event of an accident, damage to your products, or damage to either pickup or drop off locations, you would want to be covered so these incidents do not cause you or your customers any additional stress. Make sure both the vehicle and other elements are sufficiently insured for smoother, and in the long run, cheaper deliveries.

If you are choosing to outsource deliveries to a third-party, verify that they have good coverage in these areas.

Be Flexible

Sales can fluctuate throughout the year for your small business, so vehicle leases and full-time driver salaries can quickly add up and turn into a financial burden during off seasons. Your vehicle capacity can also become an unexpected problem; if your vehicle is too large, you will be burning money when your delivery volume is low, and if it’s too small, making several runs during already hectic holidays will be adding more stress and expenses to the operation.

Should You Outsource?

Outsourcing last mile deliveries to a reliable third-party service can be a great solution to avoid those overhead costs and operational hassles as you scale and grow your business by harnessing the benefits of last mile delivery.

Making sure the service you work with is route-optimized, transparent, well-insured, and flexible to fit your changing needs are some factors you should take into consideration when finalizing your decision.

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Top Reasons to Go With Metrobi

Save time & money with stellar route optimization

On average, delivering with Metrobi costs 25-30% less, and we help you save time up to 80% through our efficient route optimization!

Growth at scale with an on-demand & reliable delivery service

We help you expand your geography and reach a wider audience, so you can focus on growing your sales and business.

Full transparency, every step of the way

You can track where your packages are in real time on our dashboard, and see their condition at arrival through the proof of delivery photos.

Provide a top-notch customer experience

Our drivers will send a text message to the recipients 10 minutes before arrival to ensure a smoother process, and your customers will also receive the proof of delivery photos.