No, this is not an advertisement for a tire company, a car or even a track event.

 

The ‘last miler’ has become the a key partner in a changing retail landscape: e-commerce

 

This is about truck drivers who simply drive trucks in the last miles of delivery to retailers, a mom and pop operation, a supermarket or directly to a consumer’s residence.  We need to re-think the outcome of these ‘last milers’ and how they can be merchandisers, salespersons and route managers.

 

The ‘last milers’ is a relatively small segment of the supply chain but it is growing in importance.  As the world’s cities are growing in size – area and population – major distribution challenges are emerging.  With the growth of populations companies are increasingly faced with the challenge of home deliveries within 24 to 48 hours from time of purchase.

 

At several firms – consumer goods – delivery drivers have three jobs.  They must deliver the goods, replenish where and when needed and take orders.  This “model” is perfect for building sound business relationships but it reduces the number of outlets the driver can service. 

 

This new delivery concept for driver can be shown with these two examples:

 

  1. A company that delivers food to consumer’s home calls their drivers “route business developers” as they are assigned the extra task of bringing in new business along those routes.
  2. Another company names their drivers “sales assistants” as they develop close relationships with businesses over a period of time. 

In both instances the company must educate the drivers on billing issues and product claims. 

 

These are not the only new training these delivery drivers must go through.  Many companies have developed other training programs such as:

 

  1. Customer interaction scripts
  2. Delivery completion checklists
  3. Customer follow up
  4. Cultural sensitivity
  5. Technological support through new phone applications.
  6. IPads training to determine stock levels

 

At some companies these drivers are treated as customers.  Drivers can call a central distribution center for any questions or issues that may arise.  This includes a truck breakdown and a switch out of cargo.

 

In the ever growing and increasing e-commerce portion of a retailers business operation companies should re-think this last mile.  The last mile needs to be thought of not merely in terms of cost reduction but in how it will create value.  Instead of rewarding drivers for the number of deliveries they make in a day, companies might create a bonus system if drivers create new business by building (spending more time) relationships with customers.

 

Is the last mile a cost to be minimized or an opportunity to be gained??