Three Mistakes Companies Make When Trying to Grow Their Last Mile

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FIRST IT WAS Amazon, and then it was COVID-19. Over the past few years, the last mile of your supply chains has been through a revolution.

As many new companies race to meet new demands and grow their last mile, they compromise their margins and customer service. Letting these two crucial pieces falter while you’re trying to scale your final mile can cripple your company.

To grow your final mile footprint while maintaining exceptional margins and customer service, avoid these three common mistakes:

1. Not Establishing Clear Compliance

Setting compliance standards for your last mile carriers is an important first step in your relationship. Discussing and agreeing upon delivery expectations may seem like it is slowing down your carrier onboarding, but it ensures higher margins and exceptional customer delivery experiences in the long term.

While establishing compliance with your carriers, here are a few important points to cover:

•   Scanning: when should your carriers scan their package to provide the needed tracking updates? When scanned, the package, along with its GPS coordinate information, is sent back to you, the shipper. You may want to establish a scan upon receipt of the package, loading onto a truck for delivery, and at the item’s delivery location.
•   Signature and delivery verification: What confirmation of delivery completion is needed? Is a photo of the package in its delivery location (i.e. the front porch) acceptable or should the driver obtain consignee signatures? Has this requirement changed as a result of the pandemic? It’s worth discussing clearly with the carrier.
•   Exceptions: If a delivery goes “out of norm” what information needs to be transmitted back to you, the shipper? Establish a process for notifying you of damaged packages, orders that are unable to be delivered, etc.

Scaling and growing your last mile with carriers who continually fall short of your standards will cost you money and business. Once compliance standards are established with your carriers, you can monitor compliance regularly to ensure standards are being met.

2. Not Preparing Adequate Capacity

Peak season, pandemics and shopping fads can all cause sudden spikes in orders, leaving you scrambling to find additional capacity to help fulfill deliveries.

Having a network of secondary and even tertiary carriers on-hand, contracted, and ready to serve in your markets can be the difference in maintaining customer service during peak season.

Your carrier network should give you access to diverse service offerings, available to you when new, last mile delivery needs arrive. For example, during the pandemic, a shift in consumer sentiment required new products and services to be added suddenly, with a different delivery requirement. Many companies were caught off guard during this time and were left flailing, with long delivery delays for their products as they sought out new carriers to help meet their new needs.

By building out a network with a variety of services, you can quickly pivot when the need arises. Should you need to add a specialty service such as hazmat or an assembly offering, having experienced carriers ready that can fulfill those needs accelerates your time to being fully operational, reducing margins and improving service.

3. Bringing Technology In-House

Trying to develop every part of your supply chain technology can take decades, piles of money and expensive mistakes. Choosing to go it alone instead of involving experienced partners in your technology strategy can make the difference in your ability to profitably grow and scale your last mile.

When looking for a technology partner, select a company that offers:

•   Expertise in their field that can augment your teams’ abilities and add value to your company.
•   Scalable technology that can grow with you and your company’s changing needs.
•   A track record of successful clients who can affirm the partner’s record.
•   Transparency in the relationship, showing consistent honesty and quality work.

Starting with these four items, then adding in your additional requirements, will establish your relationship with the technology partner for long-term success.

Grow Your Last Mile Better

As you grow and scale your last mile, we’re here for you.

eTrac simplifies the process of reaching the last mile with a single integration that connects you with your entire network of carriers and takes advantage of efficiencies from allowing carriers to remain on their existing operational system. When additional capacity is needed, find it on demand with an expansive carrier network that provides hundreds of services throughout the country. Your real-time alerts and historical analysis dashboards provide a pathway to improving your last mile service and monitoring carrier compliance, all while working with a team of established last mile experts.

Emily Johnson is the Marketing Manager of eTrac Final Mile, a technology company that specializes in connecting shippers to final mile carriers. For more information on eTrac, visit