Whether you make your own goods, or you get them from wholesalers, you’re going to need to make sure they can get from point A to B. For most smaller businesses and ecommerce startups, point A is from you and point B is to the customer. Having the right product isn’t enough, you need a delivery system that is efficient, cost-effective, and delivers what you promise to your customers. Here’s how you make sure yours is up for the journey ahead.
DIY or let someone else?
First of all, you might be more inclined to look at the services that already exist in order to help you make the deliveries you need. There are plenty of them, too. Fulfillment services can take care of storage, packaging, and delivery, removing the strain from your business. They can be perfectly suited for smaller businesses, for a time. Though the costs of getting your own storage space, fleet, and drivers can be a barrier, bringing your delivery system in-house will save you money in the long run as the business grows. What’s more, when you outsource your fulfillment, you don’t have as much control over the particulars, such as routes, delivery methods, tracking, and costs as you might like.
Any old driver won’t do
Your deliveries are only going to be as effective as the people who are carrying them out. Instead of hiring anyone who can drive, make sure that they have experience performing deliveries, driving in a way that’s fuel efficient, and that they’re fully qualified to operate the kind of vehicles in your fleet. Truck driver hire agencies can be one of the most effective ways to quickly locate the people you need. The drivers aren’t the only staff involved in the process, either. You need loads, support personnel for the drivers, and an organized team in the packaging and labelling area. The better trained and managed this team, the more efficient your delivery service.
Get to know your routes
How you get from point A to B depends as much on the routes you take as it does on the driver, the vehicle, or anything else involved. Using the GPS tracker on your phone isn’t good enough for finding out the best route. There are other matters that traffic, essential stops, and more to consider. To make sure you pick the quickest routes that hit the highest number of delivery targets, consider using route planning software. It is a cost, but it’s one you can make back by making more deliveries in less time, spending less on fuel, and winning more customers with fast delivery. Many of the best route planning software packages work with GPS trackers in the vehicles to keep your team as informed and up-to-date as possible for quick decision making.
Keep measuring efficiency
GPS trackers on your vehicle can do a lot more than simply helping you find the most efficient routes. They can help you manage driver and vehicle performance, as well. You can spot times on the road when the driver slowed or stopped and figure out what the most common causes of inefficiency are. Otherwise, uninformed business owners are more likely to blame drivers, causing low morale and often entirely missing the real concerns. Make sure you’re measuring the efficiency of the packaging and mailing rooms, too. Beyond how quickly they can get a package out and ready to go, use automated systems for marking and double-checking addresses so you get fewer wrong deliveries caused by human error.
Your vehicles are assets, treat them like it
More often that driver error, it’s vehicle wear-and-tear that causes inefficiencies to pile up. When vehicles lose performance, it takes them longer to cover a route than it normally would. It also often means that your vehicles use more fuel, which increases the costs of running the deliveries yourself. Finally, it can get truly catastrophic, leading to breakdowns and a lot of unhappy customers. You need a partnership with a trustworthy team of mechanics or engineers of your own, and a full maintenance checklist that provides a systematic look at check vehicles for potential issues. Your vehicles aren’t just important, they’re expensive, so if you fail to treat them as the valuable assets they are, you might be throwing money down the drain.
Keep your customers informed
A more efficient delivery system will allow you to make more accurate estimates for customers as to when their packages will arrive. That’s a valuable part of your service in-and-of itself. But customers like to know where exactly their packages are, as well. By hooking up a delivery insight software suite to your GPS and telemetry systems, you can provide live information and updates on where exactly a package is at any time to your customers. If they can see where it is, not only are they going to feel a lot safer buying from you, but they’re more likely to tolerate a delivery that’s somewhat late because at least they know where it is.
Get the brand across
Your delivery system offers plenty of potential to improve the reach and the impact of your brand, as well. For one, think about branding your vehicles, using employed drivers and company-owned fleets instead of using self-employed delivery drivers as contractors. A moving billboard can be a hugely cost-effective method of marketing. As for the customers receiving the packages, a little effort goes a long way in improving the positive experience of your deliveries. Drivers should be trained in a little customer service, being mannerly, professional looking, and courteous. If you can include a little personal touch like a thank you note or even some free sweets in the package, that can add some real emotional appeal to your services.
It doesn’t matter how great your product is or how easy your website is to order from if customers can’t reliably get their products when they want or need them. Go through your delivery process with a fine-toothed comb and pluck out any of the inefficiencies that cost you both money and customers.
*This is a contributed post