Ecommerce fulfillment has transformed customer expectations across all industries in recent years.
Having the lowest price or the best product no longer guarantees a retailer is going to be successful. Now, fulfillment plays a key aspect in customer decision making. The faster you ship — and the more visibility you offer customers about in-transit orders — the happier your customers will be.
Fast fulfillment does more than outpace brand loyalty — it actually helps create it. 74 percent of shoppers surveyed said that they are more likely to return to a company after receiving a same day delivery.
Customers regularly pay more to buy from a company that meets their shipping needs. However, many companies aren’t keeping up their end of the deal. 78 percent of customers in a recent survey reported late deliveries, while 56 percent reported damaged packaging.
How does this drive for ever-faster fulfillment impact the 3PL landscape? Finding innovative ways to better manage individual deliveries and increase visibility along the supply chain may give you a competitive edge over your competition, too.
Do you need a delivery management platform to keep up?
Why Delivery Management Platforms?
Delivery management platforms allow companies to facilitate on-demand shopping experiences for their customers. This software helps coordinate delivery services, often by utilizing a crowd-sourced Uber-style courier option, and provides transparency into processing and fulfillment progress.
Delivery management software already dominates the app-enabled restaurant landscape by facilitating real time ordering and delivery. It helps to organize and assign delivery providers to coordinate transport for each order, and helps to automate real-time GPS updates and notifications to customers. Most software platforms are designed to integrate with both web-based ordering and custom-built apps.
A lot of established companies make the mistake of thinking delivery innovations like same-day and courier-led fulfillment are expectations that only apply to certain industries — or that only startups need to play this new game. However, customer expectations are being set by those companies that offer more with their delivery.
There are pros and cons associated with delivery management platforms. Here are some key things they can enable:
The more your fleet relies on small vehicles and on-demand contract workers, the more challenges dispatch management presents. And for today’s last-mile and LTL, more efficient dispatch management and route optimization can save critical minutes on turnaround time.
Delivery management software offers you a platform for tracking distribution channels and assigning tasks with ease. Beyond scheduling and planning, this software can help track vital KPIs and individual driver performance as well.
As more companies try to take on a on-demand delivery structure, delivery management for freight forwarders and warehouse fulfillment grows in importance as well. Product management software can guide product through the warehouse, but without capable tools to manage equipment and people from the loading dock to the next warehouse, store, or customer’s doorstep you’re never going to beat industry disruptors.
Transparency & Real-Time Tracking
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of delivery management software is the visibility it offers.
Retail customers today expect complete end-to-end visibility from purchase to delivery – no matter whether that delivery happens same day or weeks down the road. Research suggests that customers often make their buying decisions based on the transparency a fulfillment provider offers.
For retail customers, delivery management platforms can fill in the gaps between the processing facilities. This extra bit of transparency allows them to visualize product in motion, which in turn adds to the buying experience. Delivery management platforms can also help connect customers with their drivers when things don’t go as planned.
For management, better transparency means smarter scheduling and route assignment that matches with need. As more companies shift to on-call or contracted “gig” delivery drivers, having the ability to manage a larger and highly distributed workforce could become all the more important.
Delivery management platforms help to enhance the buying experience in ways that many customers will find valuable. When integrated with your existing warehouse management software and other project management tool sets, this software can offer valuable transparency into planning and process development for fulfillment leadership as well.
Whether or not that constitutes a worthwhile ROI to justify the expense, training, labor, and other factors that come with implementation is to be seen. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. But technology isn’t going backwards any time soon, so it’s often wise to cautiously embrace what’s coming — early, if possible.
For companies who aren’t ready to take the plunge, 3PL warehousing and trucking can help fill the gap for on-demand buying by offering expedited port-to-door shipping.