Final-Mile Solutions: Competing in the Retail Race

Posted by Brent Dorrough on January 3, 2018 - 8:01 AM
Final mile in retail shipping

How consumer demands are reshaping final-mile deliveries

Traditionally, consumers completed the final mile by purchasing a product in a brick-and-mortar location and either taking it home via their own transportation or hiring a local delivery service. But, with the rise of e-commerce, consumers can now purchase virtually anything online and get it delivered right to their door. This even includes heavy and bulky items like appliances, furniture, exercise equipment, safes and basketball goals. Purchasing online and selecting residential delivery is often much more convenient for customers than figuring out a way to get large items home themselves. And as consumers continue ordering heavy items, the need for more personalized delivery and set up options increases. Read on to learn how the final-mile service you choose plays a huge part in fully meeting your customers’ expectations. 

Final mile services your customers need

Delivering large and heavy items is more challenging than parcel packages — these types of shipments usually require more specialized handling and product assembly. Using a carrier without a variety of delivering capabilities could create an undesirable situation for both you and your customer. For example, let’s say you ship a treadmill to a new buyer. The carrier delivers the exercise equipment and then leaves without removing the packaging or setting it up. If the customer is expecting item assembly, they’re likely left with a bad impression of you — not the carrier. You can avoid these types of scenarios by working with a carrier with multiple delivery options, such as:

  • Curbside — Delivery to the curb of a residence or business
  • Threshold — Product delivered to the door or first dry area
  • Room of choice — Inside delivery to a specific room
  • White glove — Unpacking the product in a specified room, positioning it for use, and removing all packing materials
  • Assembly — Setting up items for use

Challenges retailers face today

To meet customer demands, retailers are searching for solutions to complete efficient, cost-effective and timely deliveries, especially for these larger items. However, some challenges can prevent them from providing the level of service customers expect. Factors like truck capacity shortages, inefficient supply chains, poor consolidation plans and inexperienced carriers contribute to many of the issues retailers face today. When a delivery fails and a customer’s expectations aren’t met, they are much more likely to blame the retailer than the carrier. According to a study conducted by Dropoff®, 94 percent of consumers blame the retailer when deliveries go poorly. With each negative experience, retailers pay the price. To remain in the race, it’s necessary to use a trusted carrier that understands residential delivery, does it well and offers solutions to face these challenges head-on. 

Four factors retailers need to compete

Hiring a trusted carrier with efficient supply chain optimization solutions, shipment tracking capabilities and convenient delivery options helps ensure a seamless customer experience. This, in turn, results in improved customer loyalty for retailers. When searching for a reliable carrier, finding one that sets you apart from competitors is critical. ArcBest® understands residential delivery and is dedicated to providing the most reliable final-mile solutions. We do this by making sure shippers have access to these key differentiators:

  1. Assured capacity
    Freight can’t be delivered without a truck to haul it, and capacity is critical to final-mile deliveries. Oftentimes, retailers struggle to find experienced carriers with enough capacity to transport heavy and bulky items wherever the customer needs them. ArcBest offers retailers a variety of ground transportation options via our LTL and truckload solutions — at any time, to any location.
  2. Supply chain management
    Supply chain optimization is a crucial component of a residential shipment’s journey. From pickup to delivery, freight should move rapidly and efficiently so it reaches the customer as quickly as possible. With a strategic supply chain in place that is continuously improved upon based on consumer needs, you’re more equipped to stay ahead of the competition. Strengthen your supply chain by working with our experts to determine the best location for distribution centers and the most common pool points. Optimizing your current strategy can improve inefficiencies that have gone unnoticed, leading to better final-mile experiences. 
  3. Enhanced visibility
    Once a customer clicks the “confirm order” button online, they usually expect to see a follow-up email with a tracking number appear in their inbox. Customers want to follow their orders from cart to door, so it’s crucial to work with a carrier with shipment tracking capabilities. If you don’t provide your customers with status updates, it could mean them choosing a competitor who does the next time they buy. ArcBest offers end-to-end visibility to give you and your customer peace of mind throughout the freight’s journey. Learn more about how our shipment tracking and monitoring systems work.
  4. Experienced customer service
    Customers expect both an easy delivery experience and excellent customer service from both you and the carrier delivering the product. The transportation provider you use should be capable of handling any situation. From tracking questions to changing delivery methods or delivery locations while the shipment is in transit, the carrier should be able to accommodate customer needs. After 94 years in the transportation industry and 20 years of experience in moving household goods, ArcBest carrier ABF Freight® is a leader in both customer service and residential deliveries. No matter how bulky and heavy a shipment is, we’ll complete the final mile with care, ensuring customer satisfaction each step of the way.      

ArcBest Final-Mile Services — your solution to winning the race

In today’s online retail-focused world, the last mile is the most important. The way you deliver heavy, bulky freight can either move you ahead of the competition or put you in last place. ArcBest offers flexible solutions to fulfill your orders on time and intact. So, don’t worry about competing on your own, we’ll complete the final mile for you. Have questions? Leave a comment below or speak with a local account representative.