Last Mile Carrier Tracking: What It Is And Why It’s Important

Learn the basics of last mile carrier tracking: what it is, why it’s important, and how you can use it to win a cult following of customers.

In today’s e-commerce environment, it’s all about redefining the last mile and understanding how last mile carriers and shipment tracking can work together. In other words, if you’re looking to eliminate inefficiencies and optimize one stage of the customer journey, look no further than last mile delivery. 

What is last mile carrier tracking?

When we talk about last mile delivery, we mean the final stage of a shipment’s journey, when it’s being moved from a transportation hub or warehouse to its final destination. Last mile carrier tracking refers to the technologies used by businesses to gain a synoptic view of their supply chain and the delivery logistics that define the last mile of a shipment’s journey. 

What we’re really talking about though is finding the right last mile carrier and increasing a customer’s ability to track their package. This process is all about increasing efficiency and performance in the last mile and improving the customer’s experience by ensuring the delivery goes off without a hitch. At the same time, final mile tracking can give customers a real-time visualization of their package’s progress, keeping them in the loop about their package’s ETA and boosting brand loyalty. 

Popular last mile delivery carriers and their services

The logistics industry may be crowded, but you’re probably familiar with the big names when it comes to last mile delivery service providers and shipping companies in North America. 

  1. FedEx. FedEx offers a full range of standard services, from standard overnight and priority overnight to same-day shipping, and, of course, FedEx Ground, which has a shipping time of one to five business days. SameDay Freight services are also available for shipments that weigh more than 150 lbs. 
  2. UPS. UPS also offers standard ground rates with a delivery speed of one to five days and two-day shipping, in addition to same-day delivery options like UPS Express Critical. The company’s tracking abilities are also impressive.
  3. DHL. DHL’s standard shipping clocks in at about two to three days in the US, though they also offer same-day and two-day delivery options. For their last mile services, DHL partners with USPS to get the job done. 
  4. USPS. Although same-day services might not be their strength, USPS offers strong Priority Mail options and reliable Overnight Delivery. Standard Priority Mail delivers in one to three days. For businesses and freight, USPS actually has some strong same-day services and has been ramping up its last mile capabilities recently. 
  5. Amazon. Amazon is the trendsetter when it comes to last mile delivery. It pioneered same-day delivery and is famous for its two-day free shipping policy. Now Amazon is leaning into the last mile and merging its shipping and logistics infrastructure with third parties. 

The costs of last mile delivery carrier tracking

If you’re not already investing in last mile delivery tracking, you’re probably losing money due to multiple factors and inefficiencies, some of which you might not even be aware of. A streamlined last-mile experience can dramatically cut down on “Where Is My Order?” (WISMO) calls, which make up 50% of customer service queries — and at $5 each to resolve, those costs can quickly add up.

Investing in the last mile experience is cost-effective because it can save you money by cutting down on WISMO calls, but it can also have a dramatic impact on churn, keeping more customers loyal to your brand by improving the customer experience. 

Even a minor mistake can be detrimental in today’s customer-centric e-commerce environment. Research shows that if any package is delayed and the consumer isn’t informed of the delivery exception, 69.7% of shoppers would be less likely to shop with that retailer again.

This is a good illustration of why it’s critical to choose the right last mile carrier, while also investing in shipment tracking technologies. When there are so many variables in the last mile — and when so much, from ROI to customer loyalty, is on the line — why would you leave your tracking and last mile logistics in the hands of just your carrier? 

The importance of better last mile tracking to the customer experience

Thanks to the Amazon Effect — and the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted retail — e-commerce shoppers are constantly raising their expectations, especially when it comes to delivery and the last mile experience. If you’re not trying to match Amazon by offering real-time visibility and advanced tracking options, your customers are likely to think less of their post-purchase experience as a whole. 

Fortunately, businesses can leverage several emerging technologies to improve the last mile experience for their customers. Let’s take a look at some of the most exciting, including Delivery Experience Management:

Adopt a personalized, branded shipment tracking

Providing a branded tracking page won’t simply improve your customers’ last mile experience by giving them real-time access to accurate shipping information. With a well-designed tracking page that offers updated tracking information and a view of their delivery route, you can dramatically increase brand loyalty and confidence, while also centralizing the data systems that typically control the last mile with Experience Design (UX/UI)

Use APIs to create real-time visibility

You probably know how to get your hands on real-time tracking data, but how are you supposed to convey that information seamlessly to the customer? When it comes to improving the last mile experience, communication is the name of the game, so if you’re not ultimately optimizing that, you’re missing out on opportunities. 

One clear way to boost communication is by using tracking APIs to seamlessly populate tracking details into whatever medium you want, whether it’s a sleekly designed branded tracking page, an email or SMS notification, or a My Account profile on your website. By integrating with CRM software, APIs can make customer communication more dynamic and fluid. 

Send SMS/email alerts for delivery updates

Customers want transparency and honest communication when it comes to package tracking. Data even shows that 47% of customers will avoid ordering from a retailer altogether if they sense a lack of visibility during the delivery process. You should send updates when a customer’s package has shipped, of course, but it’s just as important to clearly communicate when something has gone wrong: 93% of customers want to receive notifications if there’s a problem with their shipment

Being able to send relevant and timely delivery notifications through a customer’s preferred channel, whether that’s email or SMS, has been proven to reduce WISMO calls while boosting customer satisfaction. Simply put, automated, relevant, and customizable delivery updates are the future of last mile communication. 

Offer the ability to communicate if an issue arises

Obviously, communicating clearly with customers is critical — letting them know when things are going well, and when they might need to expect delays. At the same time, you need to be easily accessible to your customers. According to our research, 98% of shoppers want to self-serve or interact with a brand to resolve delivery issues

And even when a delivery hasn’t gone as perfectly as you or the customer would like, remaining open to their feedback, and making it easy to give, can still provide a final positive boost to the delivery experience. We found that 68% of shoppers prefer easy, digital means of communication of submitting feedback on their delivery experience

Make it easy to schedule delivery appointments

For freight shipments, setting up delivery appointments can be a serious — and costly — hassle. On average, a carrier will spend $10 to $20 to set up a delivery. That’s because large shipments are, simply put, just difficult to arrange. Today, 30% of large-item shipments require multiple contact attempts to schedule — and even then, 28% of those successful appointment events still fail.

Delivery Appointment Scheduling, powered by APIs, takes the process of carrier outreach and helps to automate, giving brands more control over the delivery experience. More importantly, it gives customers the ability to schedule, or change, their delivery and appointment windows. Ultimately, you’ll save on costs associated with scheduling time and decrease customer friction and frustration. 

A platform like Convey can offer Delivery Experience Management that combines all of these strategies and technologies into one fluid system. 

Emerging trends and the future of last mile

Shipments will continue to get faster, and attention will continue to focus on streamlining the last mile experience. Personalization, flexibility, and communication will also be the key values that define what consumers want the last mile experience to look like

Of course, achieving speed, reliability, and delivery transparency requires a new way to think about centralizing the last mile experience, that’s where Delivery Experience Management (DEM) comes into the picture. As the art of proactively ensuring your customers get their how and when they expect, DEM is the key to optimizing your delivery experience.