Optimising the last mile with automation creates big savings

Last-mile automation drives revenue growth by reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction.

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When you think of last-mile automation, you might think about delivery drones and self-driving cars. But those technologies aren’t ready for the real world yet — and in the meantime, last-mile delivery remains one of the most costly and unpredictable parts of the supply chain.

Thankfully, you don’t need robots to automate the last mile. There are plenty of less futuristic automated processes that can help all kinds of retailers expedite delivery, create more value for customers, and save big bucks.

Here are some last mile automation solutions you should know about:

Route optimisation

One way automation saves money in the last mile is by optimising delivery routes.

There’s more to route optimisation than finding the quickest path from point A to point B (though that’s one key advantage it offers). AI-driven route optimisation tools can also find the best route for multiple drop-offs based on current traffic patterns, customer availability, driver schedules, vehicle capacity, and other factors.

Route optimisation software used to be prohibitively expensive, but recently, advancements in AI and cloud technology have made it more accessible for smaller businesses.

Route optimisation software allows each driver to perform more deliveries in the same time period, while saving money on fuel. In time, this software can even help you reduce the number of vehicles in your fleet.

Download customer communication checklist for last-mile product delivery

Automated notifications

Automated notifications let your customers know where their delivery is and when they can expect it. That means less idling time for drivers and fewer failed deliveries — translating directly into reduced costs and higher customer satisfaction.

With automated notifications, businesses can keep the customer informed without the logistical hassle and confusion that comes with having drivers call or text customers.

Automated notifications can be set to handle a number of operations, including:
  • Reminding customers a day before their delivery (in the case of larger jobs like tool hire or equipment rental)
  • Telling customers when their delivery is on its way
  • Telling customers when their delivery is close
  • Proof-of-delivery notifications that include a photo and info about the delivery location

With a flexible last-mile automation system, notifications can be sent via SMS, email, or an app. They can be triggered by system inputs — such as a driver confirming a previous delivery on the route — or by geofencing and GPS tracking for a fully automated experience.

This effortless, hands-free communication is exactly the kind of benefit that drives repeat customers and revenue growth.

 

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Case study: HSS Hire

Localz implemented an automated notifications solution for HSS Hire to help optimise their last-mile operations.

"Our drivers are ecstatic,” said Dave Raywood, Director of Marketing and Procurement at HSS Hire. “For the first time in our drivers’ working lives, the customers are waiting at the site gate.”

Read the full story.

 

Customer self-service

Problems in the last mile create higher call volumes at customer service and dispatch centres. The consequence is more expenses, staffing, and admin work — or, alternatively, unhappy customers.

Self-service systems that keep delivery information up to date can automate issue resolution to improve the last-mile customer experience and save money. When customers can check on their delivery themselves, it leads to reduced call volume and reduced wait times at call centres for other customers.

A self-service portal that allows customers to update their own appointments and provide special instructions to drivers can also reduce failed deliveries and lead to higher customer satisfaction.

 

System integration

You’ll probably find that automating processes like appointment scheduling, inventory management, route optimisation, and customer engagement will require at least a few different systems.

Choosing systems with well-documented APIs can help you link these processes together to automate entire end-to-end workflows, maximising efficiency and revenue on every trip.

For example, the Localz customer engagement platform comes to life thanks to our pre-built integrations through partners and our dev team, who can build custom integrations to centralise disparate systems. That way, you can consolidate a number of different systems in one place, including:

  • Customer engagement
  • Registration
  • Authorisation
  • Orders
  • Stock
  • Payments
  • Route optimisation


With advanced system integration, you can say goodbye to low-visibility paper-based systems (and the costs they bring along) forever.

Conclusion

Last-mile automation isn’t all or nothing. It doesn’t mean replacing your whole fleet with self-driving cars. And it doesn’t have to wait — with a few automated solutions, you can start making incremental changes to your last-mile operation that generate real revenue and cost savings.

Small changes to streamline delivery, power up customer self-service, and connect your systems can make a big difference on your bottom line.

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