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Achieving “Right-Time” Delivery in the Last Mile

Delivery Truck driving along road

As the role of the customer in logistics, particularly in last mile deliveries, becomes more and more important, it is time for businesses to rethink some of their most basic KPIs. More specifically, it is time for delivery organisations to upgrade from thinking in terms of “on-time” deliveries to using “right-time” delivery as a marker of success.

The difference here is subtle but powerful:

· On-time: For most people, on-time means that you provided a time to your customers, and you were not late. This is certainly a good thing to strive for—but it does not capture the possibility that the time did not work for the customer to begin with, or that being early is often just as bad as being late.

· Right-time: Where on-time is just about hitting the target, right-time is about getting it right for the customer. This means that the delivery’s not early, not late, but at just the right time. You make a promise, and you delight your customer by delivering at exactly the right moment.

The power of right-time delivery is that it puts the customer’s needs first—giving you a guiding principle for making decisions across the entire supply chain. That is why this concept is so important for modern delivery organisations—even if achieving consistent right-time deliveries is easier said than done.

Challenges to Delivering at the Right Time

Many of the legacy processes that businesses rely on to deliver to customers are inflexible and time consuming. It takes too long to create a workable delivery route by hand, and the routes cannot be adjusted when changes arise. Similarly, it takes too much time and effort to call customers one by one to arrange delivery times and provide updates on delivery schedules. Different touchpoints are often siloed, and there is a lack of connectivity and integration between one team and the next, to say nothing of customers.

This means that even when you are delivering on-time, you might not be offering the best possible delivery service to your customers. Luckily, you can gain the agility, connectivity, and intelligence you need to power right-time deliveries with the right approach.

How to Achieve Right-Time Delivery

At a high level, here is what your processes need to be in order to power right-time deliveries:

· Agile: At every stage of the process, you need to have the ability to adapt, pivot, or update plans as needed.

· Connected: You need a solution that can address delivery challenges from end-to-end in a holistic way. Your technology should break down silos and power engagement with customers, drivers, and anyone else involved in moving goods from point A to point B.

· Intelligent: The whole system should be constantly learning, and it should be easy to understand the data being collected throughout the delivery process.

What this looks like in practice is that you make delivery promises to your customers, and then leverage the tools at your disposal to efficiently keep those promises, all while being transparent and keeping customers in the loop throughout.

Right-Time Delivery Tools

Agile, connected, and intelligent delivery management might sound a little lofty, but these ideas are practical at heart, and they point you towards the kinds of capabilities you need to make right-time delivery management happen:

· AI-powered routing and rerouting

· Automated customer notifications

· Real-time logistics visibility

· Configurable reporting

These capabilities can and do add up to more than the sum of their parts—when they are leveraged in a connected way. When you have logistics data moving between touchpoints freely and easily, you can create optimised delivery plans, then adapt to changing conditions in real time to ensure that you are delivering at the right time for the customer.

At the end of the day, there is a big difference between on-time delivery and right-time delivery. Right-time delivery is all about making and keeping promises to your customers. In an era where customer satisfaction is top of mind for so many delivery organisations, keeping promises via right-time delivery has never been a better indicator of logistics success.

Alex Buckley is general manager of EMEA and APAC operations at DispatchTrack, to learn more about this topic then head over to DispatchTrack, the complete customer delivery experience and last mile Logistics optimisation platform.

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