The 2023 holiday season may seem like a long way off but retail and delivery companies are planning ahead now.

The United States Postal Service said it delivered around 11.7 billion packages letters, and cards in the 2022 holiday period. That may be slightly down from a pandemic-induced height of 12.7 billion in 2020 but is more than enough to create capacity challenges.

The right last mile technology can play an essential role in mitigating these peaks.

Over 11.7 billion packages and cards were delivered in US peak holiday period.

Source: USPS, 2022

In this guide, learn three ways that smartphones powered by high performance barcode scanning and augmented reality software can help you to:

  • Rapidly, cost-effectively scale delivery capacity up (and down) with peak needs – no need to purchase hardware based on preliminary forecasts
  • Get more from your existing capacity – boost speed, efficiency and drive down costs
  • Innovate last mile processes with a flexible, future-proof technology platform.

1. Why smartphones are key to scaling the last mile

Portrait of a woman holding a package in front of delivery van.

Scaling last mile technology without incurring massive operational costs is a huge challenge. In fact, in recent years operating costs have nearly doubled due to:

  • Adapting to new safety requirements (contactless delivery)
  • Surging parcel volumes
  • Lack of cargo capacity

With scalability and savings more critical than ever when preparing for peak, equipping last mile drivers with a smartphone scanning solution provides a more flexible, cost-efficient alternative to dedicated hardware scanning devices.

Time to Replace Handheld Barcode Scanners

Scandit Smart Data Capture turns any camera-enabled smart device into a powerful barcode, text and image scanner with augmented reality capabilities.

Frontline workers use scanning-enabled mobile apps on a single, familiar smart device to speed through their day-to-day delivery tasks with minimal training needed. This can either be a smart device provided by the enterprise or a personal smartphone owned by the employee.

2. Scale and flex to solve the capacity crunch

Delivery businesses are challenged with scaling last mile resources, both in terms of people and technology, in order to:

  • Meet the ever growing delivery volume of traditional seasonal peaks (Black Friday, Christmas, etc)
  • Be able to react rapidly to the unexpected – such as the pandemic-created peak in March 2020 or even staff shortages due to sickness/self-isolation

This typically means the need to source temporary workers and temporary tools to enable them to work. In March 2020 alone, Amazon hired 100,000 delivery drivers to cope with a surge in demand. Getting them equipped and on the road where speed is of the essence is no small task.

Sourcing dedicated scanners to equip temporary workers, despite their ruggedness and good scan performance, is a high cost, high maintenance, low flexibility investment with limited potential for future innovation.

It also means you are potentially left with a stock of expensive devices that may sit unused when you aren’t running at peak capacity. Far from ideal when tapping into the gig economy.

This is where scanning-enabled smartphones provide an answer.

Scale at speed with the performance you need

Temporary, holiday, contract or permanent employees may come from a range of backgrounds, but most of them have used smart devices, which makes any training for workflows on smart devices faster and easier. With Scandit-powered mobile apps, you can enable top notch scanning performance on over 20,000 smart device models.

There are a few ways enterprises can capitalize on smartphones in the last mile at or ahead of peak season:

  1. Adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy: You can enable seasonal workers or contractors with scanning-enabled mobile apps on their personal smartphones, scaling with more speed and less cost with no need to procure devices. And Scandit brings enterprise-grade scanning performance to your apps, no matter the make or model of the drivers’ device.
  2. Lower costs by switching from scanners to smartphones: It is quick and simple to deploy lower-cost, easily sourced corporate-owned smart devices with scanning-enabled apps for last mile drivers, without decreasing scan performance or investing in more, inflexible hardware scanners.

Factors why BYOD makes sense

For rapidly scaling delivery staff and technology up and down, especially when facing an unexpected surge in volume or high staff sickness levels where hiring speed is key, BYOD makes a lot of sense.

Cost saving versus hardware solutions: Using a software smart device scanning solution, rather than dedicated scanners, can typically lower the TCO. And with a BYOD strategy, even allowing for any employee reimbursement scheme, it means no need to own, stock, or maintain company devices, creating further cost savings.

Also, replacing just one dedicated scanner is the equivalent to reimbursing the cost of replacing an average of three to four mobile devices. Accessories such as straps and protective cases can also be factored into any employee reimbursement scheme, while still offering a savings against dedicated scanning hardware.

Scandit customers have seen up to 40% increase in delivery drivers hired for peaks with no increase in hardware costs with BYOD.

Speedy onboarding with their own phone: With their own familiar, easy-to-use smart devices, employees can be trained faster and are able to become proficient very quickly.

User satisfaction: Employees don’t need to carry around and use multiple devices for work and their personal life during shifts. And employees are more likely to look after and not lose/break their personal device!

The flexibility to choose

There is no one-fits-all solution and the decision to deploy BYOD or enterprise-owned smart devices can be tailored to your specific company needs and profile.

BYOD or COPE?Checkout our Infographic to see the advantages of each approach and help define your ideal strategy for Mobilizing the Last Mile.

Adopting a hybrid approach is common when it comes to mobile deployment and ownership strategies, even across different divisions, employee groups or even processes. Smartphones with the right software and approach provide even more flexibility when it comes to addressing planned or unplanned peaks.

3. Maximise existing capacity, don’t compromise on performance

Last mile workflows are at the core of the enterprise value chain. Any delay, error or downtime within these workflows easily becomes a cost center, while negatively impacting on your customers’ satisfaction.

Integrating Scandit scanning into delivery apps operating on smartphones is a simple way to help existing employees become more efficient to tackle ever growing volumes. So when you are looking for ways to get more from your current resources and drivers, switching to software scanning is a smart solution.

Perform on any device, in any conditions

Smartphones not only don’t disrupt traditional workflows, they can actually add speed, efficiency and innovation to last mile processes – but only when performance is up to scratch.

Crucially, Scandit’s enterprise-grade scanning performance is outstanding on almost any device model and in any conditions a driver might face.

Scandit enabled super reliable performance in the challenging environments of last mile deliveries – scanning packages at range in the van, in bad or too bright light, at any angle for ease and speed, when barcodes are ripped or damaged and in adverse weather conditions – whether on a high-end or low-end smartphone.

Yodel & BYOD: Rapid deployment and a transformed courier experience

Yodel selected Scandit to provide the barcode scanning software for their delivery app after it out‑performed all other software options in testing.

The delivery app was developed for Android and iOS devices so that drivers can use their own smartphones or any future company-provided devices. Colleagues can process deliveries while out on the road and confirm proof of delivery in real-time with a quick barcode scan.

“The app has transformed our on-the-road courier experience. It was deployed rapidly to users, on time, with no issues. We are delighted in our partnership with Scandit in terms of product quality, technical support and their roadmap for future innovation – factors critical to the success of our transformation program.”Helen Marshall, Chief Information Officer, Yodel

4. Enable innovation to unlock new efficiencies

Last mile enterprises can simplify workflows and essential tasks for drivers on the road with Scandit Smart Data Capture. These include:

Loading the van

There’s smarter way to load parcels into the van with MatrixScan Augmented Reality. A driver with a smart device scan can batch scan and overlay the sorting order on-screen for maximum ease and efficiency. Save time with one scan for sorting and help guide inexperienced drivers.

Search and find

Save time locating the right delivery in the van with MatrixScan Find. Scan once to swiftly locate the right parcel, ensuring time savings and avoiding delays.

Proof of delivery

Record proof of delivery and age verification on the same smart device. Experience fast and accurate ID scanning that covers thousands of document types, ensuring compliant delivery of restricted or high-value items.

These are just a few of the examples of how you can digitally transform your driver operations with barcode scanning and AR. Check out more last mile innovations.

It’s never too early to prepare for peaks – you never know when they will hit

These are some of the things smartphones give you the capability to do to get ahead of the next peak. Scandit technology offers you flexibility, choices, and advantages to help you make future-proof choices to expand your delivery operations scalably, without major disruption or breaking the bank.

Contact us today to get a demo of Scandit’s full solution in action.

More Resources

Beating the Big Four Challenges in the Last Mile

Are you looking at digitally transforming your company’s driver operations? These videos are the roadmap to get you there.

Driver Technology in the Last Mile

We surveyed 1,200 across 11 countries to hear how they used technology in the last mile. Here are the results.

Scaling for Last Mile Demand with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Best practice for putting personal smartphones to work with advanced mobile scanning technology and AR.