Last mile delivery isn’t something often considered when discussing warehouse management systems (WMS). We often focus on the processes that are warehouse centric and that occur inside the fulfilment itself. We can be forgiven for this since generally speaking last mile delivery tends to fall under the transportation management system (TMS) umbrella.
Your WMS though can play a meaningful role in supporting last mile delivery, ensuring that this very important final stage in the delivery process occurs seamlessly. So, let’s discuss what first mile delivery is and look at a few ways a WMS can help to optimize last mile delivery.
Let’s start with what last mile delivery is. As the term would suggest it refers to the very last stage of the delivery and transportation process as the package, load, or parcel is delivered to its final destination. Usually, last mile destinations tend to be retail locations, places of business, or private residences but can also include a storage facility like a warehouse or a worksite.
Last mile delivery is the most crucial part of the delivery process and the one that businesses want to ensure is done right, quickly, and as efficiently as possible. The biggest reasons why it is the most crucial part is that one, it is the most expensive part of the delivery journey and two, it is the point at which the customer takes ownership of the delivery. If a package is late, damaged, or lost the customer will be dissatisfied, and the problem runs all the way back up the logistics supply chain costing time, money, and reputation.
So how can your WMS help to ensure that this crucial part of the delivery process runs like clockwork? Things like route planning tend to fall under the TMS purview but the routes that are planned in the TMS must be taken into consideration during the loading process at the warehouse or fulfilment center. Orders that are delivered last in the route will need to be loaded first while those that are delivered first should be loaded last. This is what is known as load sequencing. Your WMS can help to plan out how orders are staged and sequenced before loading and ensure that the process is organized and efficient. In turn this will help drivers optimize their route and save time as they unload at each delivery point since each order will follow the next in their route. When truck loading is optimized in this way businesses also save costs in time, labor, and fuel which directly impact the bottom line and allow businesses to be both profitable and to pass savings onto their customers.
Last mile delivery is also supported by the inventory management capabilities of the WMS. Your WMS tracks inventory that is in stock, orders against your inventory, shipments, and order destinations. It also helps in organizing carriers, transportation costs, schedules, delivery statuses, returns, and other information important to last mile delivery. Your WMS also communicates important information to carriers about what they are transporting, and which items are to be delivered for each order so that the entire process runs smoothly.
This type of information sharing aides in providing end-tot-end visibility across the entire delivery process from the fulfilment center right up to the customer. Visibility greatly reduces errors and increases the accuracy of the entire last mile delivery stage. It also streamlines the returns aspect inherent with todays’ e-commerce ordering environment. For instance, drivers can handle returns on-site with electronic devices and applications that have supporting documentation which once confirmed can be pushed back to your WMS which can then create the corresponding inventory receipt for the items being returned. This allows warehouse staff to know why the inventory is being brought back and for what reason, allowing them to vet the return, and then either restock it or in the case of damage to dispose of it. Furthermore, your customer is satisfied as the process is kept simple for them without extra effort involved.
Of course, to achieve this the right technology is required. So when contemplating which WMS solution you will be using check if the solution is easily integrated with other solutions like a TMS for your transport organizational needs or your CRM for managing your customer relationships. Akatia’s WAM for example is Salesforce native and so connects seamlessly with the CRM features that the platform is well known for as well as being able to be integrated with other Salesforce native applications like Revenova’s TMS and accounting applications like Accounting Seed. This creates a cohesive environment that helps support your business activities, including last mile delivery.
Ultimately last mile delivery is all about getting orders to their final destinations in the most efficient manner possible so that the customer is delighted. By integrating your WMS into the process and taking full advantage of the technologies’ strengths you maximize your other solutions that creates a last mile delivery process that is efficient and robust. In tun this will optimize your operations in a way that will set your business up for success.
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