Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Last Mile Delivery in e-tailing

The opportunities for e-retailing - in fact, e-commerce in general- are well documented: rising incomes, young population with high aspirations, close link with technology and the rise of facilitators such as internet,mobile penetration and COD facilities. The sheer speed at which the market is growing defies expectations. With increased success comes increased order volume, lines per order, complexity in payment and an inevitable need to automate.

Maybe in some futuristic world, online will be more or less like the real world, where shoppers will transact with the same ease they do in the current physical world. However, there are miles to cover in terms of payment challenges viz, last mile delivery visibility, returns management and SLA adherence before we thrive in such a world.

Our in-house research suggests that processes and systems have evolved to the point where the product leaves the warehouse for the final leg of delivery. However, there are blind spots in terms of COD collections, data about Field Executive (FE) activities and managing communication with customers.

92% e-retailers allowed COD, some free of cost and a few with minimal charge. 38% of the delivery executives carry an mPOS device but with zero to minimum support on the mobile  to integrate payment with delivery mechanism. As a result, majority prefer to collect cash bearing the risk of loss and theft. As a result, most e-tailers are struggling with long cash realization cycles and inevitably poor customer feedback for delivery.

FE is the only traceable asset for e-tailers when their products are on the field. The ability of these organisations to have visibility into these resources through real-time data transfer is integral to ensure efficiencies. Only 8% of e-retailer in our study were able to handle real-time requests by customers. 46% captured data real-time, however they are not able to tie it back to their systems  to use the data.

There is a large lacuna in the information that is given to a customer when they contact the retailer, ranging between 8 hours to 48 hours to revert with a resolution. In an age where the customer is demanding instant service, it is but obvious that mobility is a clear winner as a tool to gain customer trust.We also observed a significant drop in communication for reverse pickups in case of return requests.
e-retailers cannot afford to let their guard down in this highly competitive market. e-tailers must change operations to adapt.  This is where mobility solutions like mEdge can come to the rescue from transit to delivery to payment cycles. We understand that there is no aspect of the business that can remain static. e-tailers now have a great opportunity to leverage mobility and workforce management solutions to build relationship into recurring sales. 

The best solutions will include triggers to take action instantly. It can include things like triggering a re-assignment of delivery when it is rescheduled in the system when a customer makes the request.

 One of the easiest ways to get started with mobile is with push notifications and cloud-based web access for admin roles. It is as simple as, run-sheet is created , it is  automatically pushed to all the FE’s devices. FE’s can then access the schedule with their mobile devices. FE’s are able to update orders as they go about completing their scheduled runs . Businesses will have real-time visibility into their last mile delivery and payment processes.

With the growing popularity of mobile in e-commerce, collecting and analyzing information across all consumer touch points — understanding what consumers want — will be critical to managing the customer experience and optimizing performance.

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