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December 9, 2017

How is it that is able to do so many innovative things and to be one step ahead of some of the most respected names in last mile delivery?

Is a question that I am often asked by clients. Of course, there are many aspects to a complete answer, but the one area I'd like to cover in this article is customer data. (and any respected e-tailer for that matter) has access to data about us that few commercial carriers are likely to have access to. The screenshot above, which I have just received, is an example of how this data is supplemented by the ability to easily request further feedback (data) which will help improve the customer experience.

Ok so what's the big deal? you may ask. Well, this really is a big deal in the Last Mile, if you think about it. Data from the customer can include a number of things that will help in a better and more successful delivery experience.

Let's look at some of the things that can use to be "one step ahead of the pack" in this space.

First time (and on time) delivery:

I have selected this point as this is one of the most important elements of a good customer experience. A rule of thumb that I learned at Amazon is that if we fail to successfully deliver, first time; it is about six times more likely that there will be a customer complaint.

Of course, interactive delivery management (IDM) is the key tool in making this more effective but better customer preference data is an important supplement to this. So what sort of data can be used to improve these key parameters:

  • preferred delivery times or days
  • safe place to leave a parcel
  • neighbours who can take the parcel for collection by the consignee, later
  • alternative delivery locations if I am away (PUDO/Lockers or other Access Points)
  • access/entry codes to an apartment building

Customer Experience (CX):

This is a wide area and covers a multitude of areas. Generally, the goal here is to ensure that the right item is delivered on time, undamaged and in a convenient and professional manner. Once again, has access to data that can really help here (and the packaging data request above, is a great example of this...and was the trigger for me to write this article). But let's get to the point, what sort of data can help in the last mile CX?

  • preferred (and undesirable) delivery times
  • feedback on packaging
  • feedback on customer service and IDM
  • feedback on courier performance and attitude

Predictive Ordering; what we will order next, and when?

One area which is growing in importance (and actually merits its own article) is that of predictive ordering systems. This is where data about us and from us is used to predict what we will order next and when we will do this. This is a great advantage, as appropriately located stocks can be better matched to expected needs, thus improving delivery time and cost.

One final thought, though. Can't the commercial carriers and postal operators get this data too? The answer is yes, but not so easily. For this to work for them, they need to invest in a meaningful platform by which they can "interface" with the consignee and effectively obtain data.

Examples of where this can work are best in class Last Mile players such as DPD UK where their IDM systems give customer choice and collect data about their preferences which can be used to improve current and future delivery performance (take a look at this video ).

Regular users who "get it" and are happy to have a profile with the carrier are a further opportunity, although I have not seen too many good systems here: the one o recently had from one of the big 2 US players was complicated and less than user friendly....I signed up and have never used it since!

One future opportunity are the subscription and/or free delivery type services like Australia Post's "Shipster": . Once I am a user, the platform for data sharing up and long as the Last Mile partner is willing and able to take advantage of it.

Interesting, isn't it, that much of this data is there for those that understand how powerful a tool it is. The question is when will the operators pick up on this and bridge an important gap vs views?