Supply Chain LIVE: The State of Last Mile Delivery

project44 hosted the first episode in the new Supply Chain LIVE series, a monthly webinar telling you everything you need to know about what’s going on in the world of supply chains. Members of project44’s data science team, along with project44 ecosystem partners, discuss multimodal global shipping, real-time data and trends as well as downstream impacts.

Episode one featured last mile insights, data, and outlook from project44’s Chief Industry Officer, Bart De Muynck; global leader of Last Mile Solutions at project44, Jenny Bebout; SVP of Supply Chain Execution for American Eagle Outfitters, Bill Besselman; and OneRail founder and CEO, Bill Catania.

During the conversation, the panelists discussed the last mile boom exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With retail focus shifting almost exclusively online, shippers and carriers saw higher volumes, increased rates, surcharges, and a degradation in service and capacity. Meanwhile, customer expectations have been on the rise, making the handling of those challenges even more important in retaining and winning new business.

According to insights from project44’s visibility platform, pre-COVID on-time deliveries averaged around 90%. Currently, on-time averages are, at best, 80%, due to high consumer demand, COVID-intensified online shopping habits, and a shortage of last mile drivers. Thanks to labor issues and other disruptions affecting the last mile, there seems to be no change on the horizon for now. Currently, supply chain executives are focusing on diversifying carrier networks, optimizing inventory, and increasing collaboration across the supply chain.

Bill Besselman, SVP of Supply Chain for American Eagle Outfitters, agreed with the last mile problems faced by retailers. To begin solving these problems in a new way, AEO acquired two supply chain companies and combined them. Quiet Platforms serves small to midsize retailers, enabling them to drive carrier diversification without the cost and complexity that usually comes with it. Another focus for the retailer is always looking for ways to enhance the consumer experience. In the past, the job of a supply chain manager was to reduce costs. Now that more than 50% of transactions are e-commerce, the consumer is experiencing your brand through your supply chain, not in your stores. Every step from purchase to delivery matters.

Founder and CEO of OneRail, Bill Catania, echoed that carrier diversification is key, along with interoperability and fluidity between modes. The OneRail platform has aggregated 9.2 million drivers across over 500 delivery companies and found increased diversity in not only carriers but also the number of drivers delivering for their customers. On-time rates have improved, which is likely due to carrier redundancy – more carriers available to deliver means a higher chance it gets done on time. Catania’s best advice for shippers as well as technology providers is to promote interoperability and be an open platform. When platforms don’t want to work together, the shippers (and their customers) are the ones who suffer. Platforms like project44 that connect supply chains from ocean shipments all the way to a consumer’s front door are critical for stitching the pieces together to providing useful and accurate end-to-end visibility.

Shippers are continuing to invest in last mile technology, especially those that provide improved order visibility and customer experience management tools that help provide delivery and exception updates to customers waiting by the door for their packages to arrive. Current trends also include implementing predictive delivery dates on product pages and at checkout, creating consumer experiences that delight (think a fun summer playlist or brand-specific TikTok videos), and proactive exception management that helps consumers have a positive experience even when delays occur.

Click here to watch the webinar replay.

Looking for even more supply chain data? Register below to join us Thursday, June 9, at 10 a.m. for episode two of Supply Chain LIVE as we discuss “Sustainability: How Your Peers & Partners Are Taking Action on Emissions Reduction & Regulation”.