The last mile can be nuanced and complicated. In an attempt to simplify, some companies rely on “The Big Three” to manage it. Using these companies seems like an easier option to accomplish shipping to the final mile, even less expensive maybe. But in today’s challenging circumstances, depending on one of these companies has impacted the service and efficiency of your supply chain.
Depending on a large national carrier to transport your goods to the last mile is likely causing delivery delays, additional expenses, and lack of control in your customers’ last mile experience. It’s time to move to a last mile solution that can better serve your company — providing operational efficiency and giving you more control.
The Difference in National, Regional, and Local Carriers
The national carrier market is dominated by “the big 3” — UPS, Fedex and the US Postal Service. These carriers specialize in parcel, or smaller, deliveries nationwide, but have branched out to larger “big and bulky” deliveries in recent years. They have technology, but can be expensive and are rigid in their services. These carriers tend to make national news during peak season or when unusually high volumes of orders come in for their delivery delays and supply chain disruptions.
As the name suggests, these carriers cover “regions” of the country, like “East Coast” or “Southwest”, so you will need to utilize multiple carriers to cover the country. Their technology is typically pretty advanced. You should find they have more flexibility in their capacity and services.
A local carrier typically covers an area around a large metro city such as “200 miles around Atlanta” for example. The technological abilities of these carriers vary — they may use one of the most common operational systems, or they may not use a formal system at all. What they lack in technology, they make up for in flexibility. Many carriers adapt delivery needs to their clients, giving you additional flexibility and control over your delivery.
When you rely on a big three carrier, you lose control over critical aspects of your supply chain and efficiency. A few of these include:
When shipping goes into overdrive, large national carriers become quickly inundated with orders. Your orders do not take priority, and you may face significant delivery delays during peak shipping seasons. Your customers may watch an order sit in a warehouse for days before it begins to move to its destination.
Regional and local carriers can adjust to balance order influxes and reduce shipping wait times.
When your business needs to pivot, a larger carrier can be harder to work with. Their size makes adapting to new processes and needs difficult. It will likely come with a hefty price tag, too.
Owning your supply chain provides greater flexibility here — allowing you to shift, add new services and grow capacity where it’s needed as it’s needed.
Many assume the Big 3 are a more cost effective option for reaching the last mile. However they’re known for adding unforeseen accessorials and price hikes can hit your bottom line.
Building your own network provides insight into the actual cost of moving your goods, and negotiating pricing with each carrier can save you money. Working with each carrier to establish service levels and avoid accessorials will help keep your last mile costs down.
In an e-commerce world, your customers’ delivery experience is typically attributed to your company, not the carrier.
Late deliveries, misplaced packages and damaged goods can all be detrimental to your brand. But more importantly positive experiences boost your brand. Regional and local carriers are more willing to provide brand control to their customers. Some options include:
- Uniform and truck logo placement
- Specific pick-up and delivery service requirements (greeting customers a certain way, asking specific questions, etc.)
- These and other customized practices allow you to reinforce your brand’s image and customer experience.
It’s time to build an agile last mile.
eTrac is here to help you overcome the obstacles that may have dissuaded you from owning your last mile in the past. Connecting directly to regional and local carriers provides the visibility you need, more efficiently with improved customer experience.
One integration provides a complete connection to your last mile footprint, and a database of last mile carriers ready to help when you need to pivot. Learn more about eTrac and how it can help you own your supply chain by scheduling a demo here.