Smart Last Mile Scaling: How to Cope with the Capacity Crunch & Satisfy Customers

| Post, Parcel & Express, Transportation & Logistics

proof of delivery in the van

In 2022, last mile delivery businesses are facing a paradox caused by a perfect storm of factors:

  • Customer expectations for home delivery are rising – people want faster, cheaper, on time, more flexible services.
  • However, the valuation of last mile delivery is decreasing – expectations are that prices should remain low or that home delivery should be cheaper or even free.
  • Yet the last mile is often the most expensive and time consuming part of the whole delivery process.

As a result, there is a fundamental disconnect between the expectation and valuation of last mile delivery in the eyes of consumers. Here we’ll look at how to deliver more parcels, with high quality and differentiated services, while protecting satisfaction levels, the bottom line and razor-thin margins.

Scale operations cost effectively, while offering superior satisfaction

Immediately past peak covid, a survey from Convey showed that most 76% of US consumers tempered their expectations for flawless on-time deliveries due to the extraordinary circumstances. This heightened tolerance is already a thing of the past though and it’s worth highlighting that 46% of people held the carrier responsible for late deliveries, while only 19% blamed the retailer.

In 2022, surging e-commerce is further reframing consumer demands and expectations. During peak season last year, parcel volume growth, while still unpredictable, might be finally stabilizing. However, delivery delays in busy periods actually increased.

Maintaining customer satisfaction levels has become the key challenge, as last year customers had to pay more for often slower delivery times. Meanwhile, labor shortages continue and supply chains are inefficient, but at the same time expensive to operate.

Businesses need proven, readily available solutions to tackle this paradox.

You must be able to scale at the speed of need

There are a few future things we can be fairly confident of:

  • The shift towards eCommerce is here to stay – and customer demands are growing more exacting.
  • Delivery volume is high, yet unpredictable – and staff are hard to find and retain
  • Maximizing operational efficiency and controlling costs is a priority for all delivery businesses.
  • Differentiating and diversifying services is key to maintaining market share.

The ability to scale at speed, without sacrificing quality is vital.

Rapidly scaling operations typically means more drivers, more devices, more vans and more costs. But this is where leveraging smart data capture-enabled smartphone apps can deliver a huge advantage to your last mile operations – especially when budgets are under strain.

Smartphones + Smart Data Capture = Scalability

With Scandit Smart Data Capture software, everyday smartphones become enterprise-grade scanners. New, temporary or veteran employees can use either their personal (BYOD) or company-provided smart devices to download and run business apps with smart data capture-enabled capabilities to complete last mile workflows. This can be anything from scanning parcels when loading the van to confirming proof of delivery or age-verification at the doorstep. And the combination of Scandit and smart devices offers huge potential to squeeze more out of existing capacity and provide a platform for future-proof services.

Adopting smart devices for employees with Scandit scanning-enabled mobile apps helps to create superior scalability, efficiency and eliminate other pain points when compared to traditional scanners.

  • The combination of scanning-enabled apps and a BYOD approach makes it especially easy to tap into crowdsourcing or gig-economy platforms and sub-contractors in today’s tough labor market.
  • It is simple to deploy, as employees simply need to download an app to get started.
  • It’s cost effective, as businesses don’t need to source, stock and ship expensive hardware scanning devices – utilizing employee’s own mobile or providing cheaper, multi-functional smartphones instead.
  • Training requirements are minimal with most drivers’ familiarity with smart devices and the ability to use AR to guide new recruits, so it’s easy to scale at speed.
  • Integration into existing employee mobile apps is quick and straightforward.
  • With Scandit you can be assured of top performance scanning in real-world conditions, even on lower end devices, so it doesn’t matter what device the driver uses – efficiency can be boosted to ensure a great experience for employees and customers.

US delivery company Shipt is a great example of scaling operations at speed with smart devices with a BYOD model. During the peak of the pandemic they were able to double their workforce, onboarding 100,000 new contractors, to handle a three-fold increase in demand for order picking and home delivery using a scanning-enabled app deployed on contractors smartphones.

COVID-19 created an unprecedented surge in demand. We needed a scanning solution that could quickly scale up, deliver a quality user experience, while keeping customers and contractors safe. Scandit’s fast, accurate, intuitive scanning means little training is needed for quick, contactless order picking.
Chace Burnette, Principal Engineer, Shipt

While BYOD helps scale delivery resources rapidly, other enterprises prefer to provide and control the devices used in their operations to optimize performance and efficiency. These enterprise-owned smartphones still provide additional flexibility and help cost effectively scale with peaks in demand. Smartphones are ubiquitous, easy to source and the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of deploying smart devices with Scandit Smart Data Capture is typically three times lower than that of dedicated scanners.

You can find out more about the advantages of different approaches to deploying software scanning solutions to scale capacity and quality, whether BYOD or COPE (Corporate-Owned, Personally-Enabled), in our Mobilizing the Last Mile infographic.

Ensure you can adapt and flex technology to meet new challenges


Age verification using smartphone for ID scanning

Continuously adapting to new and changing consumer needs is no small challenge.  Especially when avoiding disruption and ensuring efficiency, speed and cost effectiveness is critical. 

During the pandemic, delivery processes were adapted to become safer and more contactless to protect customers and employees. But as we move towards a living with covid model, the challenges created by this are coming to the fore once again, from failure to verify proof of delivery with a signature to friendly fraud to compliance challenges when delivering age-restricted goods that require age verification checks. Here the flexibility of smartphones provides an advantage.

An app-based approach on smart devices makes it easier to adapt processes quickly with need – or even roll out new capabilities to delivery staff and new services to customers.

Smartphones with Scandit-enabled mobile apps provide a single device that can support many different workflows required in last mile driver operations. Smart data capture technology enables enterprises to handle all elements of last mile processes, from managing parcel identification and capturing proof of delivery (including the return of signatures) with safety, confidence and compliance.

You can easily add new capabilities seamlessly into existing processes to streamline and differentiate services. One example is ID scanning capabilities which can scan identity documents (for example, drivers licenses, national identity cards) during age-restricted deliveries, ensuring no item is incorrectly received by a minor.
Another option supported by smart devices is using pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) locations to completely do away with last mile delivery costs and further reduce capacity issues.

PUDO offers customers greater choice and a more convenient delivery option. More importantly, it reduces the strain on the costly last mile operation, helping limited resources to stretch further. It’s a win-win for helping to tackle the paradox.

Innovate processes to sprint the last mile

Parcel delivery is the last and most important part of last mile delivery—the crucial moment when an item reaches its final prescribed destination. Naturally, this step demands careful coordination to ensure that the right parcels reach the right delivery locations at the right time. 

Scandit-powered devices make it easy for Post and Parcel dispatchers to plan itineraries, optimize delivery routes and track delivery progress in real time, driving efficiency and transparency. 

But additionally, mobile apps using smart data capture provide a future-proof platform to innovate and optimize last mile processes. When dealing with exponentially increasing volumes, any efficiency gains or savings help to do more with less.

For example, drivers use smart devices to access GPS and information on dynamic navigation factors (like weather or traffic), fostering more efficient and seamless deliveries.

Another example of the potential efficiency gains from innovation is using Scandit MatrixScan, which enables drivers to scan multiple barcodes in one go and quickly identify specific packages when loading or searching for a package in their vehicle—making parcel delivery almost effortless and helping inexperienced drivers minimize their process errors from day one.

MatrixScan can also use Augmented Reality overlays to highlight packages that have updated or special instructions at a glance on the device screen.  Watch it in action:

When looking ahead, it’s worth assessing how smart data capture on smartphones can help you create lean, flexible and scalable last mile operations that really deliver to customers’ expectations.

Scale last mile delivery smarter with Scandit

If you want to find out more, why not check out our latest guide The Last Mile Paradox: Balancing Satisfaction, Scaling and Spend.

Or if you have any specific questions about smart data capture and how it can support your Post & Parcel enterprise then don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’d love to help.