In most cases, the final mile deals with the end customer/user more than any other supply chain leg. Unfortunately, this is also the portion of the supply chain that will cause the most noise if something goes wrong. This is the reason that there is a lot to think about when it comes to specialized deliveries in the final mile.
Here are 5 things that you should consider for the final mile:
#1 Local Customer Service Representation
Having a provider with customer service people located very close to the end customer is extremely important…not to mention someone who speaks the local language!
A local relationship can be as simple as a phone call taking place to a store or project manager prior to a delivery. This can make all of the difference in the final mile experience. When the end customer feels empowered with names, contacts, and information of people at the local level that can make things happen. Many small hiccups are taken care of quickly and locally without ever generating a lot of noise back to other levels in the organization.
#2 Global Consistency
Many “global” companies will talk about how they are fully capable to deliver on specialized services across the globe. While this may be true, often 3PL’s will completely outsource everything having to do with specialized deliveries to other companies. Many companies require specialized services as part of their “normal” supply chain and should demand the same consistency with specialized services as they do with any other leg of their supply chain.
It is important to have a provider who not only has a physical presence and personnel in all geographies, but also to then have consistent processes and metrics built with specialized services in mind. Some of the processes would include, pre-site checklists, service confirmation processes, billing and accessorial management, customized load planning and delivery reports, and of course exception management, for when dealing with the end customer and problems come up.
#3 Service Provider (Carrier) Management
When a customer requires a provider who can execute in the specialized final mile leg of their supply chain, what they are really looking for is a provider who has the knowledge and experience in setting up and managing relationships with the best asset based carriers who perform these services around the globe. It is imperative that whomever they choose has a formal program that is pushed from the top down to ensure compliance of adhering to approved “carriers” across their network. Of course, customers could absolutely set up and manage their own relationships with the asset-based carriers mentioned above.
However, this would require tremendous resources to set up carriers by country, state, and even city, as many of the best “carriers” in this category are the smaller companies that do not have a global, regional , or even national presence. A 3PL who can show that they have a proven record of accomplishment of setting up and managing the best asset “carriers” in each market with a formal program should be something high on the list when selecting a provider.
#4 Carrier Financial Stability
For reasons mentioned above, it is important to keep in mind that most of the best asset “carriers” in each market are “local” companies who are heavily dependent on cash flow to keep their operations going. When choosing a provider for specialized services, it is important to make sure that financial stability (cash on hand to pay their invoices), is not an issue, and even talk about the payment commitments they have with their “carriers”. A 3PL, who does not expose their “carriers” to lengthy payment terms, will have great working relationships, service, and pricing from the best carriers in each market. The carriers also recognize the benefits gained in working with a global company who can expose them to new business opportunities that they would never have a chance to sell “locally”. They would rather work with the 3PL’s than directly with the customers.
Customers who require specialized final mile services should expect that their provider will provide tracking and visibility in a very real time manner. Additional or specialized services that happen during the delivery does not mean that having certain critical milestones updated timely and visible in their system should be compromised. A red flag might be if a provider were to say that visibility is not possible for specialized services…. This might indicate that they subcontract these services out to another 3PL and there is no system connectivity
Finding a service provider that can take care of all of those things for you can be difficult. Luckily, Expeditors can help. Reach out to us to speak with one of our final mile experts.