As we look ahead, coming out of a severe lockdown, firms need to change their last mile delivery strategies. From contactless delivery, assuring safety of the consumer and the delivery personnel and the need to cater to changed expectations, the supply chains have their task cut out for them. To do this they need to leverage technology, analytics and where possible, crowdsource data collection says Amit Bagga, Chief Revenue Officer of FarEye.
Retailers and online delivery operators have a crucial role to play when it comes to serving the society during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns triggered by the same. These unprecedented times calls for businesses to introduce massive changes in their existing supply chain operations.
In this situation, the first and foremost step is to channel a greater number of available logistics resources to mainly handle essential supplies and ensure movement of these supplies to every last mile in the network.
This changes everything that is normally done such as the type of vehicle used to move certain types of goods, how they are allocated, the billing models associated with it, the terrain they will be treading etc. With regards to COVID’19, here are some insights into how standard protocol changes.⚫
Doorstep deliveries need to be modified and made as outside doorstep deliveries.⚫
As an essential step, sanitizing themselves at every delivery (before and after) to be mandated in the interest of delivery staff who are extremely critical at this point in time. Ensuring regular temperature checks will be equally important.⚫
Liaison with Law Enforcement Authorities for easy movement in times of lockdown – Leveraging mobile application to get ‘Movement Pass’ when there is a lockdown, electronic verification of identity, toll-free movement for vehicles and more.⚫
Movement of pharmaceutical companies, drug-carrying vehicles in a temperature and humidity -controlled environment – all of these get higher priority everywhere as compared to other items.⚫
Ensure all deliveries are made 100% contactless deliveries and leverage other modes like OTP-based verification and scanners.
Now to implement these changes and scale delivery operations to meet skyrocketing demands, businesses have no other option but to digitalize core delivery operations. By doing so businesses can seamlessly execute contactless deliveries, ensure high levels of safety standards and scale delivery operations without hurting the bottomline. Let’s quickly understand how businesses can achieve these goals.
Ensuring Contactless Payment and Deliveries
As ‘social distancing’ becomes the norm of the day, retailers must provide customers with contactless payment options by replacing cash transactions. OTP based transactions through digital wallets are highly recommended now. Business also needs to strictly follow ‘leave at door’ deliveries. Customers must be given the choice to pick delivery slots and location, at the time of placing the order. These aspects are extremely important to stay relevant in the market today.
Digital tools allow home delivery providers to regularly execute temperature checks of the delivery associate and can now share this critical information with customers. This is particularly relevant to times like now when there is a lot of paranoia due to infection and social distancing is the norm.
Now to implement these changes and scale delivery operations to meet skyrocketing demands, businesses have no other option but to digitalize core delivery operations
In addition, it is essential to put as much distance between the consumer and the delivery executive to allow seamless ecommerce operations and eliminating all activities that allow proximity between customers and the delivery staff is essential. This means, doorstep or outside-the-door deliveries will replace door deliveries. Digital proof of delivery is a key step in this process and OTP-based proof of deliveries as against digital signatures which still need a certain degree of proximity needs to be implemented. Training staff to adapt to these procedural changes is another step. While drone deliveries are entirely contactless, it might still take some time to become commonplace considering regulatory restrictions, cost constraints and several more.
Leveraging Crowdsourcing, Automation & Predictive Analytics
We are witnessing some odd times when a lot of businesses are simply not ready yet to handle the massive surge in home deliveries. Even the ones that are in business find this scale od demand unmatchable and are looking for help. We are witnessing new types of partnerships and arrangements such as pizza delivery companies extending a helping hand delivering groceries, medicines, essentials and more.
Digital tools allow home delivery providers to regularly execute temperature checks of the delivery associate and can now share this critical information with customers
However, it is essential to understand and acknowledge that these behavioral changes are here to stay, and the demand curve has risen for good. It implies that ecommerce and delivery companies need to quickly scale up their technology to withstand, survive and thrive amongst these ecosystem changes. As a first step in handling such unprecedented demand for home deliveries, businesses must immediately optimize key assets such as staff and vehicle capacity. They can leverage advanced crowdsourcing technologies to optimize staff capacity by onboarding temporary or part-time delivery executives from across disparate delivery provider ecosystems. Crowdsourcing based on costs, productivity, proximity, customer ratings and more such factors can greatly help delivery providers ensure profitability per order.
The next step is automation. As the scale of operations increases, to maintain order to the delivery time, it is important for businesses to use tools that automate core logistics processes like task allocation, driver onboarding, KPI benchmarking, route diversion alerts, route planning, and more. This will save a great deal of manual effort, make execution error-free and ensure that the ecosystem is stable & operates like a well-oiled machine ensuring visibility and KPI monitoring as added benefits of automation. Teams can focus on the big picture and get new insight into process efficiencies rather than firefighting.
Businesses must immediately introduce real-time and dynamic routing capabilities to maximize staff-vehicle utilization capacity and shrink delivery turn-around-time
Automation also generates a wealth of data and provides a granular view of core metrics and KPIs. This sets the path to predictive analytics where, platforms that provide intelligence and insights based on data helps businesses to generate accurate ETAs. A whole lot of factors such as improved routing efficiency, automated task allocation, app-based navigation etc. help in promising reduced ETAs and in ensuring they are adhered to. Throughout the process, the customer needs visibility into state and status of the shipment through real-time tracking – through mobile app, web etc. and brands need to ensure they offer a predictable, comforting experience to customers as against anxiety and panic.
Implementing Real-Time Dynamic Routing
Businesses must immediately introduce real-time and dynamic routing capabilities to maximize staff-vehicle utilization capacity and shrink delivery turn-around-time. Such capabilities not only increase delivery productivity and shrink fuel consumption expenses, but it also ensures businesses can efficiently plan multiple drops on a particular delivery route. Another key element that businesses should consider adding to their delivery strategy is ensuring the demands of the vulnerable (people seriously impacted by COVID-19 and lockdowns) are met first. Hence, it is crucial to develop capabilities that allow emergency collections and deliveries while a driver is out on the road.
This gives a great degree of agility to enterprises to handle surge transactional volumes without any sluggishness of systems or switching time. It also ensures security and back-up
For instance, while delivering groceries, if an emergency need for a medical delivery comes – from blood bank to a hospital, checks and balances should be in place to alert the driver to pick up blood samples from the bank to the hospital while automatically ensuring that the new ETAs are communicated to all stakeholders. Every enterprise has a moral responsibility to step in and step up during times like these. Tools allow such last-minute changes that aren’t too inconvenient and can fit in well within the objectives of the overall enterprise.
Onboarding New Platforms Remotely
If businesses are willing to invest in advanced digital technologies to ensure rapid scalability, they should look for platforms with extremely short go-live cycles and that can be implemented remotely without physical intervention. Some key factors that help achieving scale are having a solid cloud backend. This gives a great degree of agility to enterprises to handle surge transactional volumes without any sluggishness of systems or switching time. It also ensures security and back-up.
Logistics SaaS platforms like FarEye are coming up with innovative solutions like FarEye SERVE to enable efficient movement of essential goods and services amidst the pandemic. These zero-fee technology platforms are helping businesses to sustain by embracing advanced digital logistics tools. The world we knew has changed and these changes are here to stay for a long time to come.
The bottom line
The changes we are witnessing are not temporary and human behavior especially in the context of how we have embraced home deliveries is set to undergo a permanent change. Enterprises today are not equipped or prepared to handle this degree of change that happened without any warning. Technology is a great tool to navigate this crisis and further reinforce the new positioning of deliveries in people’s lives as it would become an inseparable way of dealing with customers. Newer modes of omni-channel retail will emerge and while the key to success for enterprises would be customer satisfaction and building brand loyalty, how they would achieve it would significantly change depending on the length of their technology arm. It is high time they leverage above-mentioned technology that includes automation, crowdsourcing, contactless deliveries, efficiency optimization through auto-routing, allocation etc. to not just battle the ongoing crisis but to brave the storms of the technology hotbed that the home delivery ecosystem is turning into. ♦♦♦♦♦