7 minute read

Last-Mile Visibility: 9 Reasons Your Business Needs It

Discover how last-mile visibility enhances supply chain efficiency, optimizes delivery, and elevates the customer experience in today’s e-commerce world.

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Promote last-mile visibility with the help of Circuit for Teams.

Picture this: Real-time updates, no more crossed fingers, and accurate estimated times of arrival (ETAs). That’s the magic of last-mile visibility, and it’s not just a fancy term. 

It’s the secret to perfecting the delivery experience. 

The impact of last-mile delivery is significant across all categories of eCommerce businesses due to its many consumer touchpoints. In this post-pandemic world, customers expect nothing less than the Amazon-esque seamless delivery.

But here’s the kicker: It’s not just about in-transit notifications. It’s also about automation, optimizing delivery routes, and bringing down any operational confusion.

In the coming sections, we’ll explore why last-mile visibility isn’t just cool, but a necessity for anyone in the eCommerce game.

Key takeaways

  • Last-mile delivery visibility is essential for eCommerce delivery, optimizing routes, and enhancing the customer experience.
  • Visibility addresses delivery delays, operational costs, customer expectations, and sustainability concerns.
  • Delivery software can provide real-time tracking and management, reducing last-mile inefficiencies.

As businesses expand, last-mile visibility is crucial for optimizing supply chain management and scaling for growth.

Circuit for Teams is a simple software for optimizing routes with multiple drivers. Click here to start your free 14-day trial.

What is last-mile visibility?

Last-mile visibility is the real-time tracking and monitoring of the final leg in the supply chain, known as the last mile, which encompasses the delivery journey from the distribution center to the customer’s destination. 

Imagine you’re ordering something online and eagerly waiting for it to arrive. That’s where last-mile visibility comes in. It’s like having a real-time GPS for your package — from the moment it leaves the warehouse to when it lands on your doorstep.

This visibility ensures every step of this process is transparent and accessible in real time, allowing businesses to optimize routes, manage resources efficiently, and provide customers with accurate delivery updates. 

That makes last-mile delivery operations crucial to logistics management and delivery profits.

But it’s not just about getting the package there on time. It’s about giving you, the business, the superpower of end-to-end visibility. You can know where your goods are at any given moment, making your last-mile operations smoother.

common last mile delivery challenges

Common challenges of last-mile delivery 

Last-mile visibility can play a crucial role in addressing many challenges of the delivery process. Here’s how it can alleviate specific pain points:

  • Delivery delays. Various factors can cause delays in delivery. Traffic disruptions in urban areas, inaccurate or weird address details, and random events can all prolong delivery times. Last-mile visibility platforms can offer real-time updates on traffic conditions, verify address accuracy before dispatch, and provide alternative routes or solutions in the face of unexpected delays.
  • Operational costs. The last mile of delivery often racks up the highest costs due to fuel consumption, labor costs, and inefficient route planning. By offering real-time insights and analytics, visibility platforms can help optimize routes, ensure efficient fuel usage, and reduce labor costs by completing deliveries faster and with fewer hitches.
  • Customer expectations. Modern customers expect faster deliveries, precise ETAs, and real-time updates. This places significant pressure on providers to meet these high standards! Advanced tracking systems not only provide real-time updates to customers but also adjust ETAs dynamically based on ongoing conditions, ensuring businesses can meet or exceed customer expectations.
  • Returns and exchanges. Managing returns or exchanges can complicate the logistics process and increase costs. A clear, transparent system offers easier initiation and tracking of returns, simplifying the process for both businesses and customers.
  • Security concerns. It’s an unfortunate reality, but packages left unattended can be at risk of theft or damage. Enhanced tracking and communication tools allow customers to be informed of exact delivery times, reducing the chances of porch pirates getting their fingers on the goods. 
  • Volume fluctuations. Last-mile delivery operations can be significantly disrupted by unexpected volume fluctuations. Seasonal spikes, promotional sales, or external events can lead to sudden surges in delivery volumes, putting pressure on existing infrastructure and resulting in potential delays or mishandling of packages. Last-mile visibility platforms equipped with predictive analytics can forecast potential volume spikes by analyzing historical data and current market trends. This allows businesses to proactively allocate resources, adjust routes, and prioritize deliveries accordingly.

Why your business needs last-mile visibility

If you’re not already experiencing the benefits of last-mile visibility, we’ll explain why your business needs this crucial aspect of delivery.

1. Boost customer satisfaction 

Providing customers with accurate ETAs and live updates isn’t just a courtesy — it’s a strategy. It keeps them in the loop, showing that you value their time and commitment. 

By ensuring transparency, you build a foundation of trust. Trust is invaluable in today’s fast-paced world.

But it’s more than just trust. It’s about setting and meeting expectations consistently. Last-mile visibility is instrumental in keeping customers informed and engaged. 

When they know what’s happening, they feel valued. An informed customer doesn’t just lead to a completed delivery — it leads to a lasting relationship.

2. Streamline operations 

Efficient operations require more than just an understanding of routes. It requires learning, adapting, and predicting. 

That’s where last-mile visibility, powered by machine learning, steps in. By analyzing past routes and deliveries, it streamlines future operations.

Imagine a tool that not only guides your deliveries but constantly adapts to ensure maximum efficiency. It’s like having a constantly evolving delivery blueprint. Last-mile visibility ensures each delivery isn’t just a transaction, but an opportunity to enhance the next one.

3. Maximize profitability 

Balancing cost-cutting with quality services is a tightrope walk. Every business aims to reduce costs, but not at the expense of service quality. With last-mile visibility, you can optimize operations to ensure you don’t have unnecessary expenses.

When routes are optimized, and operations are streamlined, the monetary savings add up. Over time, this not only boosts profit margins but also allows for the reallocation of resources to other critical areas. 

It’s a win-win, enhancing service quality while safeguarding your business’s bottom line.

4. Outpace competitors 

Want to play in the big leagues? Then you need last-mile visibility. 

Just look at Amazon setting last-mile delivery standards. Plus, in an APOC survey parsed by Forbes, almost half of the participants (47%) indicated that customer access to real-time status extends into the final last mile of the delivery process.

To outshine competitors, you have to meet or beat these benchmarks. By increasing your last-mile visibility, you can improve the customer experience, retain more customers, and win new customers — all leading to higher profits for your company.

5. Promote sustainability

These days, businesses bear a responsibility beyond profit: a commitment to sustainability. Last-mile visibility plays a pivotal role in this. Optimized routes mean fewer miles, less fuel, and consequently, a reduced carbon footprint.

Being environmentally conscious isn’t just good for the planet — it’s good for business. Customers are becoming increasingly eco-aware. A green initiative, like reducing carbon emissions through route optimization, adds an invaluable feather to your business cap.

Check out six strategies for sustainable last-mile delivery

6. Maintain oversight 

Consistency in business operations is crucial. Last-mile visibility offers a panoramic, real-time view of the entire delivery process. From the moment a package leaves the warehouse to its final drop-off, you’re in the know.

With such a level of oversight, businesses can proactively address issues, ensuring smooth operations. It’s more than just monitoring — it’s about being in control. Last-mile visibility ensures every move, every decision, is made with complete information.

7. Navigate disruptions 

Change is the only constant in the business world. Whether it’s market fluctuations, global events, or localized challenges, disruptions happen. 

Last-mile visibility provides the agility to not just respond but to pivot. 

For example, during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses faced unprecedented challenges. Those with robust last-mile visibility — like Walmart with its expanded delivery options — pivoted by adapting to increased online shopping and changing safety protocols.

It’s this resilience, this ability to adapt, that separates successful businesses from the rest. Last-mile logistics ensures your operations remain robust, no matter the external challenges. It’s about being prepared, come what may.

8. Optimize supply chain management 

Robust supply chain management is like a well-conducted orchestra: Every component must be in sync for the entire system to perform well. Central to this coordination is end-to-end visibility.

End-to-end visibility ensures that every step, from the bustling activity of the warehouse to the moment a package reaches a customer’s hands, is tracked, analyzed, and optimized. 

Consider a scenario where a popular product is flying off the shelves. Real-time visibility means that inventory levels are monitored constantly. This information can trigger timely restocking, ensuring there are no missed sales opportunities or disappointed customers.

Moreover, this constant vigilance over the supply chain can help with identifying bottlenecks or inefficiencies. For instance, if a particular delivery route consistently encounters delays, businesses can reroute packages to more efficient paths or adjust dispatch times.

This level of insight also empowers businesses to be proactive rather than reactive. Instead of waiting for a customer complaint about a delayed package, businesses with end-to-end visibility can notify customers of potential delays, offering solutions or alternatives before it becomes a bigger issue.

9. Scale for growth 

The last thing you need is a delivery headache. That’s where delivery management systems shine.

By gaining real-time insights into this critical phase, your business can enhance efficiency, customer satisfaction, and scale for growth. 

For example, eCommerce companies can employ GPS tracking to provide customers with accurate delivery times, reducing uncertainties. In manufacturing, real-time data from the last mile can enable quicker adjustments in production to meet demand spikes. 

Additionally, service providers like ride-sharing platforms can use visibility data to optimize routes, minimize wait times, and accommodate increased user traffic, fostering scalability while maintaining quality.

last mile visibility

Get visibility into your last-mile delivery operations

In the fast-paced world of eCommerce, last-mile delivery can make all the difference. With real-time insights, you’re delivering packages, building trust, setting accurate expectations, and staying one step ahead of disruptions. 

It’s the edge you need in today’s competitive landscape.

And here’s the best part: Circuit for Teams is your partner in this journey. When you use Circuit for Teams software to manage your last-mile delivery operations, you gain the ability to:

  • Track deliveries in real time
  • Provide customers with accurate ETAs
  • Collect electronic proof of delivery
  • Offer on-demand delivery
  • And more

Embrace the power of last-mile visibility. Sign up with Circuit for Teams today.

About the author

Heather Reinblatt
Heather ReinblattContributor

Heather Reinblatt is a managing editor currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. She spends her free time reading, trying new recipes, and cuddling her cat Paisley. You can find Heather on LinkedIn.

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Logistics map interface showing the New York afternoon delivery run with route lines and list of addresses