Since the digital explosion reprogrammed the customer expectations equation, last-mile delivery thrived on a fast lane, owing to its diligence in accomplishing the last leg of ecommerce logistics. While it grew stronger and became a critical success factor, COVID was a perfect storm brewing to shake the flow a bit. The pandemic caused a sudden surge and spiked the customer demand in terms of both volume and safety.
Companies with owned delivery systems enjoyed a higher ground, and they added capacity through multimodal, extended service hours, and even branched out into more products. For instance, what if a burger chain beefs up with a breakfast menu along with dinner? Or, a grocery store opens up more delivery slots? Of course, these businesses have their own delivery systems with the capability of scanning their existing and newer business areas.
On the contrary, companies without a delivery system had to rely heavily on third-party gig economy services. And soon, it became the primary channel for them to tap onto their customers. Net-net, the system witnessed some monumental changes unlike it had ever seen before.
Researchers highlight that food delivery – be it fresh produce from grocers or cooked meals from restaurants, lay the basic groundwork of discerning the pandemic-induced disruptions and their future implications. To thrive, businesses must adopt a sustainable approach, considering how much has changed tangibly and how much of that will be lasting. Starting with a speeding hustle for quick fixes to meet the surge in demands, the initial pandemic reaction has mostly run its course as the world reopens and reshuffles.
For one thing, the dramatic shift in priorities from comfort toward hygiene and from desires to basic needs will persist for years. All this will cumulatively make sure that last-mile doesn’t go back to its pre-pandemic state. The main catch is: will that be an open road or a dead-end for businesses? Let’s explore the long-term structural changes in the ‘new normal’ and how last-mile players will cope up to win in a post-COVID era.
Booming last-mile transport
The e-commerce effect is contagious and ragingly dynamic, especially looking at the emerging business models. But digital is once again brought to the rescue as the smart digital models are fast enabling both instant and same-day delivery (respectively growing 36% YoY and 17% YoY). While COVID has been a big advocate of these changes, it has also emphasized the necessity of elevated e-commerce and time-bound delivery levels.
Newer trends: online deliveries overtaking stores
Traditional brick and mortar stores kept falling short to meet spiking customer demands. Confined within the four walls, customers became a stickler for online services and purchases more than ever before. This coerced many retail businesses to switch to online delivery channels to keep their ship sailing.
Last-mile logistics players are benefitting from their partnerships with several retail outlets by empowering them with hyperlocal deliveries. As the next step, many retailers have transformed their vacant facilities or storage settings to last-mile delivery points. It’s giving a unique chance to the last-mile players to drive success for the retailers in functioning as full-scale cloud outlets that make only deliveries and encourage no store footfall.
Once bustling cities, now increasing pressure
The uptick in the last-mile demand could increase the number of delivery vehicles in the top 100 cities worldwide by 36% through 2030. It becomes further appalling with the fact that emissions and traffic congestion would possibly grow more than 30% in these cities without effective intervention.
As a result, COVID will add to the already-menacing congestion problem and necessitate businesses to decarbonize at scale. Throughout 2021, it’s estimated, that a large number of people globally will switch to personal transport options from public transport, particularly in metropolitan cities. Consequently, individual transport will supersede shared mobility solutions due to burgeoning health concerns. Cities will endure tightening congestions and backlogs as more and more delivery vehicles set out on the road. Plus, ‘work-from-home’ schemes will also discourage a major part of the commuting crowd from any work-related travel. It’s time for the companies to build infrastructure adjusted to a new level of commuting.
Route optimization to promise faster delivery
As a result of the above, more delivery vehicles on the move means congestion resulting in delays and several other misadventures during the transit. Just like, if there is an increased volume of orders, a last-minute change in the delivery can lead to sudden chaos in the delivery schedule and incur extra costs. So, on the deeper level, it basically points to an increased level of operational efficiency that is required to dictate each phase of the supply network.
Using a central platform with a bird’s eye view over the assets in real-time and with dynamic route optimization capabilities can be of extreme help to businesses. These types of platforms notify the drivers with the best possible routes no matter even if there is a last-minute flip. The TruKKer platform is a great proponent of this ‘real-time’ philosophy, and thus enables shippers, carriers to make informed decisions at the right time. It provides a real-time snapshot of the asset’s geographic location on-demand along with other information required to make a seamless delivery. Consequently, this empowers the stakeholders to plan the following actions and future-proof themselves against any exception. So, businesses can benefit from on-schedule delivery of high-volume orders and reduce fuel costs as well.
Driver performance will make it or break it
It’s a well-known fact that drivers are an indispensable cog for successful on-schedule deliveries during the COVID-hit time and forever. Besides meeting the safety standards, now logistics companies must act toward ensuring their performance.
For this, companies must reinforce their existing platforms or upgrade to an advanced platform capable of real-time actions to generate actionable insights. Just like the TruKKer platform provides a comprehensive view of the driver’s performance to the involved parties in a demand-supply network. From taking unscheduled breaks to wait time, the platform tracks everything. In the background, it archives this huge amount of data and crunches them to make meaningful usage. Its easy-to-understand deep insights into driver actions like idling and schedule enables thousands of logistics managers to strategize future deliveries and ease driving-related hiccups.
Maybe last-mile, same-day, or instant delivery, the bottom line is businesses globally are moving toward a delivery-of everything model. By now, customers have started relishing the flexibility of getting deliveries within hours or 1-day, let alone days or weeks. Logistics companies need to step up their capabilities to design better experiences rather than simply dropping off the order. The undercurrent was already strong and driving growth in the last-mile before COVID threw its weight to assert more demand into the delivery channel. It’s a unique chance for the logistics entities to draw upon the existing and now-relevant trends that will augment their last-mile delivery models and thrive in the post-COVID world.