The last-mile of delivery is a pain point for many companies. From missed delivery times to damaged products, it can be an area that many managers spend a lot of time on. According to Business Insider, last-mile delivery costs comprise 53% of overall shipping costs. But dedicated managers have found a solution to help improve this part of delivery: data.

Data is generated in all parts of last-mile delivery, and analysis of this information can help companies become proactive rather than reactive with their delivery methods. Below is an overview of the benefits of data as well as examples of how it has helped companies with their final-mile distribution. Managers and leaders who use this information can improve their delivery practices, saving both time and resources in the long run.

Benefits of Data for Last-Mile Delivery

Data is beneficial to businesses for a variety of reasons. However, looking specifically at last-mile delivery, data can increase transparency, optimize costs and resources, and improve overall performance. In terms of transparency, companies recording their delivery processes can see where delivery issues and failures occur. Armed with this information, managers can pinpoint when issues happen in a pattern or identify new ways of resolving problems. This can help ensure that similar issues do not arise in the future.

Through data analysis, companies can optimize costs and resources. Rising costs for fuel and insurance, along with refunds on damaged products or missed delivery dates, all affect a business’s bottom line. But when managers can make adjustments, such as finding ways to alter delivery routes, they can meet rising costs. Data can help to solve these problems by giving managers a complete understanding of what’s going on with deliveries.

Managers have a lot on their plates when it comes to staying on top of their deliveries. They need to monitor transportation routes, improve delivery times, handle schedules for both deliveries and drivers, and solve problems that arise from out of the blue. Businesses using a data system can help ease some of their managers’ burdens. These systems can be another tool for managers to use when tackling daily tasks or long-term projects. For example, a manager struggling with late deliveries can review delivery route data and find out that a specific route is causing these issues, and can then suggest an alternate course to take.

Storing all of this information in a cloud can help managers access it no matter their location. Business leaders can also view data on the cloud and collaborate with managers on changes that need to be made. But just like all deliveries are different, cloud vendors are not all the same either. Some, like Infor solutions, are hosted on third-party vendors, which do not have the same data models across the board. This means that data needs to be re-entered on certain occasions, which can be a hindrance. 

Examples of Data Improving Last-Mile Delivery

Because organizations have been collecting data for a while, some have already been using it to improve their practices. From identifying trouble spots for delivery to sharing driver insights, companies have been able to improve their delivery routes and times.

In 2016, MIT’s Megacity Logistics Lab partnered with a global brewing company to improve last-mile deliveries. Using machine learning tools, the company gathered historical data such as route plans and delivery records. From this data analysis, it was able to identify customers that were most disruptive to delivery operations. As a result, the business was able to update its route planning algorithms and flag distribution services for this set of problem customers.

The data generated from GPS trackers on delivery trucks can provide several insights on how to improve last-mile delivery. Local delivery drivers have knowledge of their routes, and as such, can highlight which shortcuts to take, congestion areas to avoid, or parking spots. Storing this information in the cloud or providing training seminars using this data gives businesses and their drivers a leg up on competitors and improves knowledge on their delivery routes.

Companies using tools like the Delivery Experience Manager can track deliveries in real-time. From small to large businesses, this tracker device generates data to help correct a problem in the moment and record when deliveries happen. Using this generated data, managers can address problems raised by customers in order to avoid negative reviews.

How Data Will Change the Landscape of Last-Mile Delivery

Data is opening up new ways of achieving improved last-mile delivery. By increasing transparency, along with highlighting areas for improvement, data can give managers a starting place on where to better their last-mile practices. Businesses that have already implemented the use of data and its insights into their practices are seeing the results by refined last-mile processes. As data increases in importance, organizations will continue to use it for improvement purposes.