Get Smart: the Quiet Revolution in the Last Mile

Guest blog by Marek Różycki and Ian Kerr, Last Mile Prophets

Have we reached the point where last mile delivery companies have to take smartphones seriously as an option for hand-held delivery devices?

Research from Scandit shows that smartphones are overtaking dedicated hand-held scanners globally in deployments in post, parcel and courier companies. These devices are performing well and allow for faster and low-cost empowerment of third party labour.

Smartphone app-powered last mile delivery is no longer the sole domain of nimble start-ups – more and more large enterprises are leveraging smartphones for their delivery drivers.

In Europe, 67.1% of companies surveyed use smartphones as their primary device or in a mixed estate, while in the USA 53.8% use smartphones with mobile apps exclusively.

Importantly, 79.1% globally report satisfaction with smartphones in the last mile.

So what are the benefits of using smartphone-based scanning solutions in the last mile? It’s all about speed, size, smarts and savings.

Speed

Rolling out smartphones to a delivery fleet will help speed up the digitalization of the last mile. Unfortunately many firmware scanners are slow and inaccurate and here the use of proven and efficient scanner technology like that offered by Scandit is key.

Size

Smartphones have evolved and devices now can fit in a pocket – unlike bulky, traditional hand-held scanning devices.

They’re often rugged enough for the road and can match scan performance of dedicated scanning devices due a combination of the smartphone camera and computer vision.

Making the concept even more attractive is the ability to consolidate multiple devices into one for communication, routing, and scanning. BYOD (bring your own device) with scanning-enabled mobile apps can eliminate the need to provide hardware entirely for some businesses.

Smarts

Smartphones with a state-of-the-art scanning app allows you to innovate and speed up processes with multi-barcode scanning and AR overlays. A good example is Hermes UK who are using high-performance barcode scanning on smartphones for verification and proof of delivery, replacing over 15,000 costly, industrial barcode scanners with smartphones loaded with a Scandit-powered Android app.

Then there’s the potential for future business applications, such as ID scanning for age verified deliveries or out of home pickups. Any mobile device is a powerful tool and, with the right software it can be leveraged for ever-more powerful and customer centric purposes.

What we like best is “driver search and find” technology that allows couriers to more quickly find that one parcel amongst a van load, or helping drivers find the next parcel or parcels to be delivered. This is a really powerful example of smartphone technology working for the delivery driver.

 

Savings

Probably one of the most important benefits of smartphones is the fact that they are effectively “free” if operated on a BYOD model and much cheaper than dedicated scanning devices where they need to be purchased.

Company-provided smartphones can also be set up to allow personal use – a benefit for the driver, at a time when offering driver benefits is particularly important in attracting and retaining drivers. In the USA, Scandit research found that a driver shortage is carriers’ top challenge.

What’s next?

E-commerce consumers demand more than just barcode scanning. They want to have control over their deliveries – even when parcels are out with the driver! Smartphone technology is helping power these advances.

Intuitive software also helps with speedy on-boarding and training for new drivers.

And as we mentioned above, advances in innovative smartphone software are helping improve speed and accuracy in the last mile thanks to tools such as augmented reality.

The future in the last mile really is exciting, thanks to the powerful mix of innovation, advances in technology, booming parcel volumes, and heightened competition.

Hear more views and insights from the Last Mile Prophets in our recent webinar ‘The Last Mile Capacity Dilemma’ available on demand.