How to Choose a Final-Mile Parcel Carrier

The last mile of a delivery, when a package reaches its destination, is the most important part of a consumer’s experience. Think about it. They placed an order, paid for it, and have anxiously awaited its arrival. How soon they get it and at what cost could determine if they ever place another order with you again. Finding the right final-mile delivery partner is crucial.

With national carriers maxed out and continually raising their rates, it’s more important than ever for retail businesses to find a trusted delivery partner to mitigate disruptions and ensure orders make it to customers on time and at a reasonable cost. Your last-mile carrier should be able to meet your expectations and offer delivery solutions that help you keep customers happy.

Here’s what you should be looking for in a final-mile delivery partner:

Customization is Key
Gone are the days when retailers must pick from a rigid set of options. Today’s market demands flexibility and your final-mile carrier has to be able to adapt to what you do. Look for a delivery partner that offers customized solutions. Typically these will be regional carriers, with smaller, nimble fleets capable of adjusting schedules, routes, and procedures in order to accommodate your delivery needs. For example, does a carrier offer one-day delivery, contactless delivery, or expedited delivery?

Real-Time Tracking
Visibility should be an important piece of your shipping scheme. Your customers want to know the status of their orders so you’ll need to have that information in real-time. Be sure the parcel carrier you’re considering offers tracking options. Most consumers expect to be notified when their orders ship, where they are, and when they will be delivered.

Coverage Matters
Final-mile carriers may cover a few zip codes, several states, or the entire country. It’s important to know what zip codes your potential carrier delivers to. You may not find a perfect fit, but you should be able to find a delivery partner that covers highly populated areas, urban areas and may be willing to expand their network.

Service is Special
Deal with national carriers and you’re likely to end up feeling like they don’t really care about you or your business. If you want to find the right last-mile carrier look for companies that will treat you like you matter to them. Chances are when you pick a smaller, regional carrier, you’ll get better customer service. In many cases, you’ll be able to communicate directly with operational leaders or even top executives who want to make you happy and keep your business. Find companies that offer live, around-the-clock customer service teams so you know there’s always someone who can help solve an issue.

Questions to ask potential carriers:

  • What is your rate structure?
  • Do you charge any supplemental fees?
  • Do you offer SMS and/or email notifications for deliveries?
  • What is your policy on returned items?
  • What hours/days do you deliver?

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