Last Mile Delivery Challenges

What are the challenges of a last mile delivery service?

In terms of urban logistics, cities don’t sleep. Fleet management and route optimization are a 24/7 concern for logistics and supply chain managers. Despite all the planning and forecasts, there is always that unexpected en-route problem that destroys an otherwise perfect delivery.

Do these resonate with your last mile delivery operation?

1. “Most of my fleet is restricted to enter the city.”

Depending on the city, couriers and 3pl providers face last minute updates by the municipality or the local government. In some saturated and polluted cities, it is now common to issue vehicle use  restrictions  (by engine type, license plate or other criteria) around an urban radius. This not only restricts the movement of vehicles but gives supply chain distributors narrow delivery windows on that final mile.

2. “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong delivery address.”

In some regions, zip codes and postal codes need adjustment, and transportation companies must manually set up waypoints for georeferencing. In the field, the map may look OK: it seems to be the right address, it’s located in the right area, but it definitely is not the right recipient.

3. “We had an unplanned stop.”

Nowadays, some fleets need to keep track of Twitter and their newsfeed of choice alongside their map or GPS. Roads and highways can be blocked in a matter of minutes – due to a car crash or an incident on the road – disrupting a route and turning that 10-minute delivery into an hour. It can also create a chain reaction:  now, where do I go to make sure I get to the next delivery on time?

4. “There was a vehicle malfunction.”

It happens to all fleets. There is always that single truck whose transmission or injection fuel snaps while your pool of delivery vehicles is running at full capacity.

5. “We’re running at a loss.”

Fuel goes up and down, rates hike and the dollar exchange rate is always a surprise. At some point, the profit margins for that long term service delivery contract are equal to none.

6. “We missed our (time) window.”

The most efficient delivery services are able to schedule specific time windows for each recipient. However, issues may go beyond your control and, by the time your truck driver knocks on a door, there is simply nobody there to pick up. Perhaps your delivery address opens 24/7. However, since he arrived after 6am, he wasn’t allowed into the city center. Because of this, the rest of the delivery schedule for the day is messed up.

7.  “We’re running over (or under) capacity.”

You’ve got two delivery addresses only blocks away from each other. But the stock just didn’t fit in one truck to service them on the same route.

8. “The cold chain was broken.”

Frozen goods, such as food and medication need to maintain a very tight cold chain during your delivery. Regardless if it’s a traffic delay or an electric power outlet malfunction, your delivery may arrive at the destination, but is rejected.

9. “We picked up the wrong stock.”

Warehouse inventory errors sound like a beginner’s mistake, but it happens. The delivery order looks to be the correct one, but for an unknown reason, your team picks up the wrong SKUs from the warehouse or distribution center.

10. “They were out of stock.”

Some delivery companies may need to stop by a distribution center to pick up the delivery. For some reason, they service trucks on a “first come, first served basis” and your stock is going somewhere else.

11. “That wasn’t on the map!”

Traffic directions and geographic references can change over a semana. Suddenly, waypoints become outdated and, without geolocation or referencing, your driver is going solo.

12. “Who placed that order?”

From the moment an order is placed, the clock is ticking. You may have service commitment times and for some reason, delivery was approved without checking if you had vehicles, stock or people available to service it.

13. “Was it on time, after all?”

The client claims the delivery was late, and the driver said it  had arrived on time. Who do I believe? What’s the best way to monitor my fleet?

What are the most common unexpected issues your fleet faces in its final mile logistics deliveries?

Francisca is the Business Development Director of Drivin, a SaaS transportation management solution that generates an optimized delivery plan, improves customer service, and reduces transportation costs by up to 30% from day one.