Understanding Final Mile Delivery

In the era where instant gratification is not just desired but expected, the logistics industry has been thrust into the spotlight, particularly the concept of Last or Final Mile Delivery. This final leg of the transportation process, where goods are transported from a local depot or distribution centre to the intended recipient, has become a crucial differentiator in customer satisfaction and business efficiency. As e-commerce continues to boom, Last Mile Delivery is not just a logistics function; it’s a critical service element shaping consumer choices, potential repeat orders and business strategies alike. 

 

Definition and Concept

Last or Final Mile Delivery refers to the final step of the delivery process – the point where a product finally reaches its destination, the customer’s hands, or worst case, doorstep. It might sound straightforward, but this final leg is the most crucial and often most complex part of the journey. It’s where efficiency, transparency, speed, and customer satisfaction converge. 

 

Significance in the Supply Chain

The importance of Last Mile Delivery has grown exponentially in the context of the e-commerce boom. It’s not just about moving goods; it’s about meeting heightened customer expectations. Fast, reliable, and transparent delivery services are no longer luxuries but necessities in the eyes of consumers. Moreover, Last Mile Delivery plays a pivotal role in brand loyalty and customer retention, making it a key competitive differentiator for businesses. 

 

Challenges in Last Mile Delivery

Navigating the Last Mile of delivery is fraught with challenges that can impact both customer satisfaction and a company’s bottom line. 

Logistical Challenges

  • Urban Congestion: Navigating through crowded urban spaces can cause delays and increase costs. 
  • Delivery Speed: The expectation of same-day or next-day delivery puts immense pressure on logistics operations. 

Customer Expectations

  • Real-Time Tracking: Customers now expect the ability to track their deliveries in real time.
  • Flexibility: Offering flexible delivery options, including time slots and the facility for consignees to amend delivery dates, or even delivery locations, is massively important. 

Environmental Impact
The increase in (combustion engine) delivery vehicles contributes to higher carbon emissions, making sustainability a growing concern in Last Mile Logistics. 

Technological Innovations and Solutions
The landscape of Last Mile Delivery is rapidly evolving, thanks to technological advancements. These innovations are not only making delivery processes more efficient but are also enhancing customer experiences.

Impact on Businesses and Consumers
The adoption of advanced Last Mile Delivery solutions has a far-reaching impact on both businesses and their customers. 

Cost Implications for Businesses

  • Efficiency Gains: Improved routing and delivery methods can reduce operational costs. 
  • Investment in Technology: While upfront costs can be significant, the long-term savings and efficiency gains often justify the investment. 

Enhancing Customer Satisfaction

  • Timely Deliveries: Faster, more reliable delivery services lead to higher customer satisfaction. 
  • Transparency and Communication:  Real-time tracking and updates increase trust, confidence and loyalty among consumers. 

Competitive Advantage

  • Brand Differentiation: Companies offering superior Last Mile Delivery services can distinguish themselves in a crowded market. 
  • Customer Retention: Positive delivery experiences are crucial for retaining customers and gaining repeat orders in the competitive e-commerce landscape. 

The Future of Last Mile Delivery

As we look ahead, the landscape of Last Mile Delivery is poised for continued innovation and transformation. Here are some key trends and predictions.

Sustainability Focus

  • Eco-Friendly Vehicles: A shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. 
  • Packaging Innovations: Use of sustainable, biodegradable packaging materials. 

Localised Distribution Centers

  • Urban Warehouses: Establishing smaller distribution centres in urban areas to expedite delivery times. 
  • Micro-Fulfilment Centers: Leveraging local retail stores, Locker Banks and centres for faster order processing, and increased first time delivery success.

How Businesses Can Prepare:

  • Embracing Technology: Staying abreast of technological advancements and integrating them into business models.
  • Adapting to Consumer Needs: Continuously evolving to meet the changing demands of consumers, especially in terms of speed and sustainability. 

The future of Last Mile Delivery is dynamic, with a clear emphasis on speed, efficiency, and sustainability. Businesses that can adapt and innovate in this arena will likely find themselves at a competitive advantage. 

It has evolved from a mere logistics challenge to a critical component of customer satisfaction and business success. As technology continues to advance, the ability of businesses to adapt and innovate in this space will be a key determinant of their success. For consumers, this means faster, more convenient, more efficient, and environmentally friendly delivery options. The Last Mile, it seems, is set to become not just the final step, but a significant stride in the journey of modern commerce. 

How We Can Help

ITD Global Stands as a guiding force, helping our customers navigate through the complexities to find their ideal final mile delivery provider. Our expertise and deep understanding of the intricate dynamic of Last Mile Logistics enable us to tailor solutions that resonate with the unique needs of each business. We recognise the pivotal role that this final step plays in ensuring customer satisfaction, encouraging repeat orders while embracing operational efficiency. We are committed to connecting our clients with providers who are a great fit for their business, and who not only excel in delivering goods swiftly and safely but also align with the evolving expectations of transparency, flexibility, and responsibility. At ITD Global, we’re not just facilitating a service, we’re fostering partnerships that empower businesses to excel in the competitive e-commerce landscape, ensuring that the last mile of delivery is as seamless and effective as the first, where ITD has the capability of collecting on our own vehicle fleet. 

Sending Fragile & Restricted Items by Courier

Sending fragile stock by courier requires meticulous planning and careful execution to ensure your valuable items arrive with your customers in perfect condition. Whether you’re shipping delicate glassware, electronic devices, or liquids, it’s crucial to choose the right courier and follow the correct packaging procedures. We’ll delve into the art of packaging, wrapping, and sealing your fragile parcels to minimise the risk of damage during transit. 

 

Fragile & Restricted Items

Fragile and restricted items include perishable goods, liquids under 1000 ml, glass items, valuable jewellery, diamonds, precious stones, antique items, watches, laptops, computers, game consoles, TVs, monitors, lighting equipment, cameras, lenses, optical gear, paintings, musical instruments, ceramics, composite items, fossils, stones, gold or silver articles, kitchen appliances with fragile parts, antiques over 100 years old, and furniture unless flat packed. Because some objects are fragile, shipping them will call for extra caution and special handling.

 

Checking with the Courier

Before sending any fragile shipments, it’s essential to ensure your chosen courier can process the items and inquire about their policies regarding fragile and restricted goods. Each courier has different and specific regulations and restrictions on different items, so it’s crucial to be well-informed. Some may offer specialised services for fragile shipments, such as extra handling care or insurance options for added peace of mind. You also need to be aware of any extra surcharges associated with sending these special goods.

 

Packaging Fragile Items

Suitable packaging is the key to ensuring the safety of your fragile items during transportation. 

  • Choosing quality boxes for the items that you are sending is very important. Avoid using boxes that are too large, as it may allow for excessive movement during transit.
  • Invest in high-quality packing materials such as bubble wrap, foam peanuts or air pillows to protect items from scratches, impacts and vibrations during transit.
  • Fill up the empty space if there is any. Add padding material to prevent the items from moving inside the box throughout transit.
  • Use strong packaging tape to seal the box securely. Ensure that all seams and edges are well-taped to prevent the box from opening during transit.
  • Ensure liquids are sealed tightly in strong packaging. 

 

Wrapping Fragile Parcels

 

Double-layer the Bubble Wrap:
For particularly delicate items, consider using a double layer of bubble wrap for added protection. Make sure the items are completely covered, leaving no exposed surfaces. 

Secure with Tape:
Use clear packing tape to secure the bubble wrap in place.  Make sure to tape all seams and edges to prevent the bubble wrap from unravelling during transit. 

Use Foam Padding for Extra Protection:
For items with sensitive surfaces, consider adding an additional layer of foam padding before wrapping them with bubble wrap. This extra layer provides an added buffer against potential impacts. 

Protect Corners and Edges:
Pay attention to the corners and edges of your fragile items, as these areas are more susceptible to damage. Use extra padding or cut pieces of foam to protect these spots. 

 

Sealing Fragile Parcels

Sealing your parcel securely is the final step in the packaging process. Follow these steps to ensure that your parcel is well-sealed and ready for transit: 

  • Use high-quality packing tape: Invest in packing tape that is strong and durable. Avoid using tape that may easily tear or lose its adhesive strength during transit.
  • Tape all seams: Tape all seams of the box to prevent it from accidentally opening during handling. Run strips of tape along the top and bottom seams, as well as along the sides.
  • Clearly label your package as “Fragile” on all sides of the box. This helps alert the courier to process the parcel with extra care during handling and transit. Make sure to provide clear shipping labels and attach them securely to the parcel. This will help prevent any confusion during the shipping process.

How we can help 

At ITD Global, we understand the importance of sending fragile and restricted items securely, and we strive to provide expert consultation with our clients. We work with all major couriers to ensure that you find the best courier for your specific needs. Our team is available to guide you through the process, offering valuable insights into packaging techniques, shipping options, and coverage. 

By partnering with reputable couriers, we can offer you a range of services tailored to your fragile shipment requirements. From specialised handling to insurance options, we’ll help you make informed decisions to ensure your stock arrives with your customer safely and on time. 

Sending fragile items demands careful consideration and adherence to correct packaging guidelines. By checking with your chosen courier about their policies, understanding their guidelines, and following our comprehensive packaging, wrapping, and sealing tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage during transit. 

We provide expert consultation and work with the best couriers to ensure the safe and secure delivery of your fragile items. Trust us to be your partner in shipping, and let our team of experts guide you through the process, offering peace of mind and smarter shipping for a simpler tomorrow. 

Preparing for Peak Season. Do you have a Plan B?

As we enter Q4, online retailers are already beginning to brace themselves for the busiest time of the year. Peak season starts as early as October and runs all the way through to the new year in a period that encompasses Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Hanukkah. Phew!

While 2021 was a peak year for eCommerce sales due to Covid causing many bricks and mortar stores to close, 2022 faces its own challenges in the form of uncertainty in the parcel delivery market on top of demand going through the roof.

At a time when customers are more demanding than ever, expecting fast and free delivery, next day options and easy returns as standard, it’s never been more critical to meet their needs. And we all know how quickly a poor customer experience can deter future sales – and how much more expensive it is to win new customers compared to keeping a current one.

So what can an eCommerce business do to ensure peak season runs smoothly? Read our top tips to maximise the revenue opportunity that this time of year brings – whilst keeping your customers happy too.

Plan for what you can

While no one can ever forecast completely accurately, it’s essential to analyse your previous years’ data as much as possible to try and be prepared for sales demand. This includes planning for the impact of any promotions you may have – it doesn’t hurt to carry a little extra buffer stock at this time of year.

Let your suppliers know your Q4 inventory needs as early as you possibly can – you need to allow longer lead time during this busy period. The same goes for letting your logistics partner know your anticipated parcel volumes and the splits in terms of country of delivery. Every carrier will have their own cut-offs for their various services, so make sure you are well aware of this and factor in the appropriate amount of time for every stage – plus a little bit extra, if you can.

Communication is key

Potential negative customer experiences can be averted through up-to -the-minute communication with your shoppers. For example, make last order dates for Christmas incredibly clear (for each delivery method), make customers aware of any delays as soon as possible, ensure out of stocks are labelled rapidly, and if you haven’t already, implement order tracking so that your customers are always fully in the know about the whereabouts of their order.

Flexible is best

At critical times like this it’s best not to have all your eggs in one basket. It may be worth diversifying your suppliers to ensure that you can get all the stock you need, when you need it, especially with shipping lead times longer than usual right now.

The same applies to your eCommerce delivery carriers. Whether to avoid maxed out carrier capacities, soaring costs, or just to offer your online customers a bigger choice of delivery options, a multi-carrier strategy is the ideal solution to ensure that a single carrier doesn’t let you – or your customers – down. Find out more about how ITD can implement a multi-carrier approach for you, selecting different couriers and delivery partners to suit the individual circumstance, and making it all seamless from both a business and a customer point of view. More.

Likewise when it comes to the shipping of your inventory. The last thing you want is for your stock to be stuck somewhere when you’ve got customers crying out for it – so you can’t depend on a single shipping method or supplier. ITD works with all the major networks and has the buying power to ensure that your stock gets to your warehouse without a hitch. And because of our buying power, we can pass savings on to you, too.

Prepare your internal teams

Even with the right logistics partner and technology systems in place, people power at this time of year is still key. That means recruiting sufficient seasonal staff to make sure your warehouse and fulfilment teams are at full power for peak. If this is an issue for you, consider outsourcing your fulfilment.

Make sure you have adequate customer service on standby and that key management roles are filled in preparation for peak. This no time to have a rudderless ship.

Get ready for returns

With huge online order volumes, sadly will also come high volumes of ecommerce returns. The best approach is a holistic solution that not only makes the process effortless for the consumer, but efficient and cost-effective for your online business too.

ITD Global has innovative returns solutions for both the UK and worldwide. Our easy online returns portal generates electronic labels making the returns process quick and easy for both you and your customer.

If peak season sounds like a headache waiting to happen for your ecommerce company, ITD can help make it all easy. Co-ordinating multiple carrier networks through our local depots… shipping your inventory cargo to your warehouses from anywhere in the world… integrating our smart software to make order management effortless… it’s what we do.

 

Bladed & Corrosive Legislation Changes

Bladed & Corrosive Legislation Changes

Important new rules impacting how bladed and corrosive products are allowed to be sold and delivered to UK recipients.

As you may know, the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 comes into force from 6 April 2022 (TBC) and includes a number of measures to tackle serious violence.

The key areas that affect you as a UPS customer are about ensuring bladed products (i.e. knives) and corrosive products are only sold and delivered to adults aged 18 and over:

Bladed products

  •   It is forbidden to sell and deliver bladed products to someone at a residential address without verifying that they are over 18 years of age

Corrosive products

It is forbidden to deliver corrosive products to a person of any age via a residential addresses or alternative delivery location (e.g. a UPS Access Point)

It is forbidden to sell and deliver corrosive products to a person at a business address without verifying that they are over 18 years of age

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get familiar with the new legislation and definitions

The guidance for the offensive weapons legislation can be found on gov.uk.

  1. Clearly label your parcels

All domestic and international parcels containing a bladed product that requires age verification (see below) must be clearly labelled.

Additionally, when placing your shipment please use the description field of your UPS shipping application to state the contents of the package.

  1. Use our “Adult Signature Required” service

You must select the value-added UPS service “Adult Signature Required” in the cases highlighted below. We will then obtain the adult recipient’s signature and provide you with a printed copy.

This table outlines the instances where an adult signature is or is not required, or if the delivery itself is not allowed:

Bladed Products Corrosive Products
Residential Delivery Business Delivery Residential Delivery Business Delivery
UK Deliveries YES NO NOT ALLOWED YES
International Parcels delivered in the UK  

YES

 

YES

 

NOT ALLOWED

 

YES