3 solutions to this holiday season’s last-mile delivery dilemma

The upcoming holidays will be different than ever, and brands will need to adapt accordingly. These unusual circumstances must be met with creative solutions to ensure the customer experience is not neglected.

Among the many issues plaguing retailers this holiday season is the conundrum of last mile delivery. With expected carrier delays due to increased e-commerce volume and rising transportation costs, retail brands need to find a strategy to address this issue.

Aside from ordering an item online, delivery is the only other direct touchpoint a consumer has with your brand. Variables like carrier delays or transportation costs will be associated with your business if they negatively impact shoppers this holiday season.

Here are some ways you can avoid this scenario by exploring alternative last-mile delivery options that satisfy both consumers and brands.

Shorten the supply chain with micro-fulfilment
By reducing the transit time for goods as much as possible, brands can remove much of the uncertainty associated with last-mile delivery. This helps solve two big issues many brands are facing this holiday season: shipping delays and increased transportation costs.

With expected e-commerce volume at three times normal capacity, carriers are expected to experience delays in delivery times. In addition, many add holiday surcharges based on distance, volume and proximity to the holiday.

To avoid these negative scenarios, retail brands should embrace alternative options like micro-fulfilment. This shortens the supply chain by distributing the product through various micro or pop-up distribution centers. This reduces transport routes and shipping costs. Brands can leverage their existing infrastructure in new ways while delivering the best holiday fulfillment experience. This is critical because, according to Salesforce, over 700 million vacation packages are at risk of not arriving on time.

A new application for the gig economy
Another solution this holiday season is to tap into the gig economy. Ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft, as well as grocery delivery apps DoorDash and Postmates, have emerged as viable solutions to the last-mile delivery dilemma.

Many of these platforms already have a robust complement for grocery delivery, so applying the same strategy to ecommerce fulfillment is a natural progression based on current market needs. This is a trend to watch as this holiday season will serve as a major litmus test for the gig economy’s role in future last-mile delivery.

Shoppers shouldn’t be surprised if their packages are dropped off of a ride-sharing platform rather than the typical truck. The gig economy offers a more agile delivery solution and helps localize the supply chain even further.

Extension of BOPIS and curbside functions
For shoppers disappointed by recent brick-and-mortar retail closures, the next best thing is a great online and in-store pickup experience. Supporting curbside pickup should be a key priority for brands during the holiday season and into 2021.

This option is safe for consumers and eliminates problems with transport delays and surcharges. However, omnichannel brands need to streamline their supply chains to make curbside expansion a viable plan. This includes ensuring products are distributed proportionally across geographies and providing buyers with inventory visibility across all sales channels. This creates an urgency to buy and also lets consumers know when they can pick up items at different locations near them.

As we continue to delve into the holiday season, retail brands will constantly face new challenges due to the uncertain nature of 2020. By using alternative fulfillment options, they can balance some of these variables and in turn provide great experiences for their buyers.

Especially this year, the success of your last mile delivery is critical to the success of your entire Peak Experience. Brands cannot afford to leave anything to chance.

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