Orders come in on your e-commerce platform, you plan your delivery routes, dispatch them to your drivers and they start the delivery process.
Then.. silence. You have no real-time tracking and your final mile delivery process is a black box. You sit back and simply pray for a good delivery experience. You have no visibility into on-time delivery performance or control control over the quality of your delivery service. You’re in the dark because you don’t have a good last mile delivery tracking system in place.
Usually, what comes next is a combination of the following:
You don’t know what drivers are doing and what the delivery experience is like
You’re unable to provide a good customer experience when they call in
You have no data on customer satisfaction
Thanks to e-commerce giants like Amazon, expectations for same-day, accurate, and trackable deliveries have become the norm. Customer expectations include real-time information of the delivery status, a package tracking link, and eta notifications. This is why customer satisfaction with Amazon is one of the best – but there are ways for you to beat Amazon’s customer experience.
A national consumer study from ShipStation saw that 87% of consumers expect proactive notifications from the retailer if their delivery is negatively affected. So it is essential for delivery companies to have a better understanding of how to track deliveries to make this possible.
In this article, we will talk about the different types of last mile delivery tracking and the components found within a great tracking system. Let’s get started.
What is last mile carrier tracking?
The time between when a product leaves a depot or distribution center and when it arrives at the customer’s doorstep is called last mile delivery. Planning last mile delivery logistics can be complex and costly, and it’s not a problem exclusive to large organizations. All local deliveries are technically “last mile deliveries” (sometimes called “final mile deliveries”). It’s called that way because it’s the final miles of the supply chain.
So, small delivery companies with in house drivers are often stuck with the same enterprise-level challenge to tackle. One of the solutions to that problem is to have tracking and visibility of your products and assets. And you don’t need to be the size of Amazon – any delivery company or last mile delivery service can benefit from tracking technologies.
Last mile delivery tracking for local business
First you start with a proper route planning process. What are your delivery routes for delivering your e-commerce orders to their final destinations? A good route optimization solution will help with this.
After you’ve planned your delivery routes, it is important for you to have real-time visibility of your in house drivers. This helps you see how far along your drivers are in their delivery process in case you ever have to answer customer inquiries about ETAs, and it gives you a birds’ eye view of all your delivery vehicles, so you're never in the dark.
Here are some of the most essential components of last mile delivery tracking software for local businesses:
GPS tracking of vehicles
Having an understanding driver locations, in real-time, helps you track deliveries and progress. Typically, this comes in the form of a driver being able to send updates back to the dispatcher every time a stop is marked completed or skipped. When you don’t have this functionality, it can be frustrating:
Kevin Kronrad, VP, All Star Specialties Ice Cream Corp., used to hand his drivers a stack of delivery orders and let them decide where to go and when. He had no visibility where his drivers had gone and when they’d be back. One of his route planning tips for small businesses was to start using a dedicated mobile app.
A dedicated mobile app is useful for dispatchers and drivers, alike. They help dispatchers track drivers in real-time, without losing sight of their vehicles. This is particularly important for ensuring your drivers follow the delivery routes assigned to them, which were optimized for cost and/or time. And to keep your deliveries on time, with real-time updates to ETAs if there are any delays. For drivers, live tracking is often complimented with additional functionality such as driver notes that have important details about delivery specifications, that can ultimately boost efficiency.
Photo capture and signature capture
Proof of delivery in the form of photo capture or signature capture can go a long way in giving your business peace of mind. When your drivers have the ability to capture this information, and send it back to the dispatcher, there are tangible bits of information to prove that deliveries have been moving forward as planned. This is useful for both businesses and customers, should there ever be a dispute.
It will also level up your customer experience if you send them an sms update with the proof of delivery, so they not only know that it’s been delivered, but also where it’s been left – if you offer no-contact delivery options.
When your driver taps 'Arrived' for each stop, they will have the option to take a photo and/or collect a signature:
Tapping 'Add photo' will allow you to access your mobile phone's camera or select a saved photo from the mobile phone.
Tapping 'Add signature' opens up a screen that allows customers to sign directly on the phone with their finger tip.
Both the photos and the signatures will then be sent to the dispatcher, where you can view them and have a record for proof of delivery.
This proof of delivery is also captured in a delivery tracking link for the customer. They can see tracking information about when their package was delivered, as well as the photo that your driver has snapped.
Last mile delivery tracking for your customers
Once an e-commerce order has been placed, one of the main concerns for a good delivery experience is when they can expect to receive their order. Having tools that track last mile delivery is important to communicate important information to your customers, helping to give them a 5-star delivery experience.
Here are some of the components you would need:
Customer Notifications is a feature that allows you to automatically notify your customers about the status of their delivery and the delivery eta, either by email or by SMS (text message).
This automation is particularly useful for consumers who have a busy schedule and need to know when to expect a delivery. Delivery notifications help to provide time windows that a customer can expect to receive a delivery — helping them plan out their days appropriately.
As you know, delays happen all the time. Another useful thing about customer notifications is that they can proactively inform all of your customers about updated delivery ETAs in real-time if any of those delays occur.
Allow customers to track delivery status on a map
Sometimes, your customers want to know exactly when to expect a delivery right down to the minute. Customer notifications for deliveries are great, but they are triggered at certain milestones, like when a route has been dispatched or a nearby stop is completed — leaving room for some ambiguity when it comes to an exact delivery time.
That’s why having the ability to track delivery status on a map is so useful to customers. Similar to ordering food for delivery, delivery tracking links help your customer see where their delivery driver is on a map, in real time.
Here’s an example of the experience a customer has when clicking Routific’s delivery tracking link:
When your customers click the tracking link, they'll be taken to a webpage:
They can see the real-time delivery status
They can see the driver approaching once the driver is 15 mins away
They can can see proof-of-delivery if your driver uploads a photo to the mobile app
Does my business need last mile delivery tracking?
Having tracking software for last mile deliveries all the way to their final destination is essential for e-commerce delivery companies to be customer-centric and provide a stellar delivery experience.
For your customers, you meet their ever-increasing customer expectations. Package tracking with real-time eta notifications via sms and proof of delivery has become the norm. Courier tracking as they approach you in the next 15 minutes is an opportunity to offer an even better delivery experience than DHL, FedEx, and UPS – even Amazon.
For businesses, last mile delivery tracking gives you more clarity when it comes to knowing where your in house drivers are, how well they follow their delivery routes, and how many deliveries your team has left for the day. A good route optimization solution typically has last mile delivery tracking built-in, so you get the best of both worlds.
So, if you’ve ever been stressed out about the lack of visibility when orders are out for delivery, it might be time to look at a tool that helps you with last-mile delivery tracking.
With built-in tools that track deliveries throughout the last mile, for both customers and businesses, Routific is a great option to level up your last mile delivery tracking.
Pam Sykes has a PhD in History and a background in Journalism. She is the Lead Content Strategist at Routific with a focus on delivery management, delivery experience, route planning, and the last-mile industry in general. She has a passion to help delivery businesses scale with her craft of storytelling.
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