Last Mile Delivery in the Modern Ecommerce Era

This past year has been a perfect storm for people who do ecommerce. On the good side, business is booming – thanks in large part to a global pandemic, ecommerce’s share of overall retail grew from 11% in 2019 to 14% in 2020, in just one year. On the bad side, this rapid growth put a great deal of strain on the entire global shipping and delivery infrastructure.

Nowhere has this become more pressing than the issue of last mile delivery. Consumer-facing businesses now face increased shipping costs, longer delivery times, and greater risks to customer satisfaction and their brands. This, in turn, has changed the equation for most companies about fulfillment and shipping.

At a personal level, more of us than ever have experienced shipments that were late or never arrived over this past year. More importantly, at a global level, competitive and cost pressures are growing. Giants like Amazon are building their own supply chain to control costs, delivery is becoming a competitive differentiator, and customers increasingly demand speed, tracking and visibility for their orders. Let’s break down what this means nowadays for your business.

Last mile delivery: What you can control

Your business may not be Amazon (although they are, in fact, our customer). But whatever size you are, there are three issues that are probably driving your business decisions about last mile delivery:

  • Problem 1: Your costs are going up because last mile delivery options are constrained.
  • Problem 2: Ecommerce transactions are also up, meaning that bad contact data entering web forms (and into your CRM) is also up.
  • Problem 3: Customers expect quick and efficient deliveries, particularly during the pandemic era – causing a heightened focus on customer experience.

Of course, controlling your costs involves good decisions about your shipping providers, including understanding rates and potential surcharges (see below). And some factors, like weather and peak shipping periods, are beyond your control – which underscores the importance of good communication with customers. Increasingly, customers expect greater visibility about the status of their orders and shipments nowadays, in coordination with your carriers.

But this also means that the costs of bad contact data – in terms of misdeliveries, lost inventory, human costs and brand damage – are now greater than ever. This means that your single biggest controllable cost for last-mile delivery is often your contact data – and much of that cost can be controlled far ahead of the shipment process.

How we can help

Bad address data has many causes: data entry errors, missing suite or apartment data, improper formatting, and more. Service Objects data quality tools can help ensure that your addresses are accurate, genuine and up-to-date – and more importantly, formatted properly for shipment – at both the time of data entry and time of use.

20+ years of address matching experience has resulted in our DOTS Address Validation services for US, Canada and international addresses, which instantly verifies, corrects and appends mailing addresses worldwide with near-perfect accuracy, as well as the newly released DOTS Global Address Complete, which increases conversion on web forms by suggesting complete and properly formatted addresses.

All of our Address Validation services can be integrated seamlessly with both ecommerce and internal business automation platforms via API interfaces, to cover all of your data entry touchpoints. We recognized that address validation was missing from competitor autocomplete services, so for US addresses, Global Address Complete includes embedded capabilities to ensure accuracy, like the following:

  • The only validation service to be USPS® CASS™ certified in all 50 states and territories
  • Superior fuzzy logic, Soundex, and geocentric matching algorithms
  • A proprietary database of over 165 million unique addresses, updated and reindexed monthly
  • Zip+4: Helps precisely designate streets, buildings, houses and businesses
  • Delivery Point Validation (DPV®): Verifies that the US address is deliverable, and flags for vacancies and addresses that are returning mail
  • Residential Delivery Indicator (RDI™): Helps make informed shipping decisions by identifying whether a delivery type is classified as residential or business
  • SuiteLink®: Adds known suite information to business addresses
  • LACSLink®: Updates rural route style addresses to locatable addresses
  • Barcode Digits: Enables sorting and deduping to save costs and duplication

According to experts such as Salesforce, the last mile is being reimagined for most companies, and customer experience will matter more than ever. We can help you stay on top of your game, with easy-to-implement solutions that provide ROI right out of the box – talk to us and see what we can do for you.