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We have repeatedly heard about last mile delivery and its importance. While emphasising the last mile delivery, often first mile delivery is ignored. However, first mile delivery is also a critical aspect of the supply chain. This article takes a closer look at the meaning of first mile delivery, its importance and optimisation.
What is first mile delivery?
As the name suggests, first mile delivery is the first leg of the movement of goods in the supply chain. It involves picking up goods from the supplier or manufacturer and moving them its the first halt/stop. It can be a distribution centre a warehouse or the nearest shipping hub. Usually, it is halted before the carrier moves goods to its next halt.
For example, a first mile delivery for a garment manufacturer would be shipping garments from the manufacturing unit to the warehouse.
In the context of e-commerce moving goods from the seller’s warehouse to the carrier’s system or fulfilment centre is an example of first mile delivery.
Challenges in first mile delivery
Here are some of the challenges faced in the first mile delivery.
As we know labelling is one of the important things in logistics. Inefficient or insufficient labelling is one of the issues which bring inefficiencies in the logistics. It further causes shipping delays. Insufficient address or labelling can also impact last-mile delivery. Therefore, all required fields mentioned on the label need to be filled in.
Whether first mile or last mile logistics, packaging is an important area. Insufficient packaging can lead to shipping damages. For example, a smaller product packed in a larger box can lead to damage. Alternatively, it is necessary to use the right packaging material and cushioning, etc. Another example would be if a glass item is shipped, it needs to be shipped with the right cushioning and the right labelling with the tag fragile.
First mile delivery: Optimisation
Here is how one can optimise first mile delivery.
Understanding your supply chain
Firstly, the step of first mile delivery optimization is mapping your supply chain. You will need to visit each step of the entire supply chain and identify inefficiencies if any. For example, you may analyse the data, understand customer demand and plan to use warehouses at strategic locations to store inventory. Another example would be understanding the inventory turnover ratio to analyse how quickly you need to replenish the inventory. This will ensure optimum supply and avoid shipping delays in the first leg of logistics.
One can optimise routes with the help of various applications and software solutions. Considering factors like traffic patterns, delivery windows, vehicle capacities, etc., can help you to optimise routes. Moreover, real-time data can help you adapt to changing situations.
Creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) for receiving inventory at the warehouse should be drawn. For example, mapping the arrived shipment vis-à-vis expected shipment, recording the number of boxes, products, sizes, etc., and checking for any shipping damages. Also, it is important to keep a record of the boxes or pallets once they are unpacked. Warehouse personnel need to sort and arrange the products on designated shelves so that they can be easily retrieved when an e-commerce order is placed or wholesale/retail order is placed.
It is necessary to collect data continuously to optimise first mile delivery. In order to achieve successful optimisation it is necessary to understand various timelines such as time to ship, time to stock, time for transportation, shipping damages, and so on.
First mile and last mile delivery
For making the logistics operations more efficient, first mile as well as last mile deliveries are equally important. Here is how first mile delivery and last mile delivery are critical and their respective roles in the entire supply chain.
First mile delivery vs last time delivery
|First mile delivery||Last mile delivery|
|It refers to the first leg of shipping or goods movement i.e. from the warehouse to the centralised distribution centre||It referred to the end-to-end delivery i.e. delivering goods to their final destination.|
|It involves picking up and collecting goods from multiple sources.||It involves delivering to multiple locations.|
|It usually involves larger quantities of products and a consolidation process.||It usually involves smaller quantities.|
|Personnel involved in first mile delivery usually face the suppliers and manufacturers.||Last-mile delivery is a customer-facing job. customer satisfaction can have a direct impact on your business and the consignor’s business too.|
Concluding note: How to select the first mile service?
Since the first mile delivery service is the foundation of the further supply chain, it is wise to select the right first mile delivery service partner. Here are some factors you need to consider:
Whether goods need to be picked up for eCommerce order or they need to be moved to the warehouse for replenishing stock, they need to be picked up quickly. This will help you optimise your entire supply chain. Therefore, choose a logistics company or trucking company that is known for quick pickups.
Make sure that the logistics partner has streamlined processes and that you do not have to follow up with them multiple times. For example, when you request pick up, the logistics company schedules pick up and shares details with you. Also, ensure that they have established guidelines for recording volumetric weight, packaging, labelling, etc. This will help you to avoid delays and shipping damages.
First mile delivery tracking
Ensure that the first mile delivery partner offers you real-time tracking ability. This will give you visibility on the whereabouts of your product and if there are any expected delays.
Tie-ups with courier companies
Ensure that your first-mile logistics partner has tie-ups with renowned and reliable courier companies or trucking companies. Multiple tie-ups and the ability to choose a courier partner for your pickup and can help you in first mile delivery optimisation.
In case of any error or unforeseen incidents, ensure that the first mile delivery partner has a provision for escalation. This will help you to address the issue and avoid any repeated mistakes.