Every year, the Key Software Systems team releases updates and new features to their Xcelerator Final-Mile Delivery platform and MobileTek that help their clients deliver the highest level of service. However, this year sheds a whole new light on the company’s big steps into final-mile home delivery service, customer scheduling, and delivery automation with their newest Oceana release in Xcelerator.
“I’m very proud of our entire team and I am thankful for our forward-thinking clients for helping us with requirements,
operational workflows, design input and participation in quality assurance testing,” states Christopher Miller, Chief Technology Officer at Key Software Systems. “This is going to be a huge year for Key Software Systems, and I
very much look forward to showing both customers and prospects the tangible components that will help them delight and attract shippers and put Key Software Systems miles ahead of our nearest, trailing competitor.”
Convenience of Scheduling has an immediate impact on carriers with diversified lines of business that have adopted Home Delivery. With the Oceana release, users can expect a more automated delivery experience for their internal teams
and customers. The new order scheduling feature is a first-class scheduling system, integrated seamlessly into the Xcelerator platform. Whether it is home delivery, product installation, service and/or maintenance, these advancements have you covered. Customer service teams can easily interact with shippers
and consignees through a two-way chat for their scheduling needs and gain insight into when a customer schedules, cancels, or re-schedules their delivery. When the delivery does not go according to plan, users can easily work through the challenges with built-in Case Management to reassure the shipper or consignee, of a swift resolution. Customers will have the visibility, automation, and toolset needed to ensure they continue to deliver an incredible experience for their customers.
Special Driver Attributes prove to enhance the dispatch environment and eliminate risk. It’s critical to match the right driver to the right delivery, and to do so with little effort. Users can create special driver attributes specific to their business needs or to that of the shippers, whether it be a certification, COVID vaccination, or even a custom created attribute. Only drivers with those specified attributes will be able to be selected for the delivery throug
h automated dispatching, assisted dispatch, or manual. Without these attributes, drivers will not be considered for dispatch, making driver assignment more precise, efficient and easier than ever.
Sort Codes increase package sort speed for same-day or next-day distribution operations. Every second counts and increasing package sort speed and accuracy at the dock level provides a streamlined, automated approach to current operations. Sort Codes are customizable, visible on package labels, order entry, and review order screens to support rapid and organizational continuity for same-day and next-day distribution. Combined with a conveyor belt system, the speed and accuracy brought about with the addition of sort codes will have an enormous impact on customer performance.
Pick Up and Delivery Driver Proximity Alerts add another layer to the customer experience and rounds out a vital aspect of customer communication in the final mile. Xcelerator customers can now deliver email, text, and push notification proximity alerts to shippers or consignees, alerting them that the driver is now approaching their pickup or delivery location. Proximity alerts add the ability for the consignee to also watch the driver approach their doorstep in real-time with driver in-motion tracking, as their packages safely arrive at their destination.
Key Software customers can expect to be able to take full advantage of all the new features in March of 2022, when Key Software Systems will release Oceana live to the Xcelerator Final Mile Delivery Platform.
In May 2020, there was a huge increase in web searches for online grocery delivery, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. These trends drove rapid acceleration in the US courier delivery market, expanding the size to an estimated $133.8 billion in 2022.
Image Source: IBIS World
This was not a temporary phase that ended with the reopening of the economy. It marked a secular shift in customer behavior and expectations. Additionally, the pandemic led to supply chain disruptions, forcing companies to better manage their deliverables to remain competitive.
Some companies make the mistake of choosing numerous plug-in modules to ease different parts of the delivery process. However, this approach has proved to be inefficient and ineffective and comes with installation issues and poor support. Instead, it’s ideal to choose a comprehensive, cost-effective and customizable courier software to efficiently meet the expectations of the most discerning customers. The courier software should allow a logistics company to optimize their entire business, from order creation to invoicing, bringing efficiency at every stage and helping scale operations with ease.
To make the decision, here are some signs of the best courier software.
- Delivery for Different Timeframes – Your company may offer different delivery schedules, like same-day, next-day, or scheduled for a particular date. The courier software should allow for resource allocation accordingly. This is particularly important as the US same-day delivery market is estimated to expand at a CAGR of over 10%.
- Cross Browser – The software should work seamlessly across browsers so that your team is not bound to one browser. With this, your staff can use the software from anywhere and at any time on their laptops and PCs.
- Dynamic Route Optimization – This feature will help your company significantly increase dispatcher productivity and reduce vehicle operating costs. This will allow for better customer service.
- Contactless Options – Choose a software with an auto-dispatch functionality to allow contactless dispatching. Using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence enables the complete automation of operations.
- Customization – The software should allow customizable SMS and email updates to customers to enhance your brand value. It should also have custom options, like dispatching from multiple hubs and scheduling load and unload times.
- Free Mobile Reporting App – The software should seamlessly integrate with an app for tracking drivers. With such an app downloaded on driver cellphones, you can track them with GPS, streamline communication with them, and get visual proof of delivery.
- KPI Reporting – A user-friendly dashboard with interactive KPIs on different stages in scheduling, dispatch and delivery will greatly increase visibility. This allows faster and more informed decision-making through the company.
A robust courier software will not only drive cost efficiencies but also improve customer experience. This is essential in today’s competitive landscape. The good news is that the investment in courier software pays off, with 86% of customers willing to pay a premium for a better experience.
When choosing the best courier software, don’t forget to check their list of clients and partners. This establishes the company’s credibility and the efficacy of its courier software. Also, check their website for association memberships, like the CLDA (Customized Logistics and Delivery Association) and AEMCA (Air and Expedited Motor Carrier Association).
With GPS tracking, you have real-time information about every driver’s whereabouts and can make informed decisions to increase efficiency. For instance, the drivers’ locations can be shared with personnel at loading bays to ensure they have the goods ready for dispatch on time. When you receive customer complaints, you can drill down into the data to identify the issue(s) and find solutions.
CURB SOARING SUPPLY CHAIN COSTS
The pandemic caused massive supply chain disruptions, resulting in a phenomenal rise in associated costs across industries. Supply chain disruptions resulted in average annual costs to companies of an estimated $228 million in 2021. Costs are expected to remain elevated through 2022. Companies can reduce the financial burden by using GPS tracking to make informed and timely decisions.
With GPS fleet tracking, companies can save time and money. Logistics companies will know the exact location of each vehicle in their fleet and can implement solutions to make the process smoother and faster. For instance, GPS tracking may show that the average time spent at loading bays is high.
Companies have been able to reduce time spent by:
- Making the layout of loading sites more functional by bringing all interrelated activities in one area location and separating them from unrelated activities.
- Allowing pre-loading, where drivers can visit the loading site at off-peak hours and reduce their wait time.
DIGITIZING THE PROCESS
GPS tracking can be used with other solutions to deliver great value. For instance, proof-of-delivery, digital signature capture, and streamlining payroll can make the process robust and free of human error or manipulation.
IMPROVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
In today’s competitive landscape, customer experience is everything. This is because it costs a business 5X more to get a new customer onboard than to retain an existing customer. A recent study found that customer experience is on track to become the most important brand differentiator, overtaking price and even product features. With GPS, you can share the drivers’ live tracking with customers, providing an estimate of when the package will arrive.
Encourage safe driving – There were about 510,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks in 2019. GPS tracking promotes safer driving because drivers know that their speed and other dangerous behaviors are being monitored.
Accurate calculation of overtime pay – GPS tracking automates the recording of work hours, eliminating human errors involved in manual reporting.
Route optimization – Drivers will know how much traffic they will encounter and can decide on the fastest route. This will also help reduce fuel costs and vehicle wear and tear.
Apart from all these benefits, GPS tracking can increase transparency and avoid confusion in the entire process. This is essential for meeting the challenges of same-day and scheduled deliveries.
The increasing demand for e-commerce and steadily rising consumer expectations have put more pressure on retailers to improve the delivery process while keeping a check on the costs. It is estimated that customers spent nearly $791.70 billion online with US merchants in 2020, up a striking incredible 32.4% year over year. This has turned up renewed attention to order fulfillment, especially last-mile delivery.
Here are some of the top trends that retailers can expect in the coming years:
1. SMART TRACKING
Logistics companies have been increasingly investing in technology to enable better real-time tracking and enhanced visibility. For surviving in this competitive industry, it is a must to utilize features like route optimization and deliver packages quickly in condition. For instance, some companies rely on GPS tracking systems for monitoring the performance of drivers and guiding them on better routes to make efficient deliveries. It helps them in enhancing productivity by up to 20% and reducing fuel costs by almost 15%.
2. ROBOTIC DELIVERY
Labor accounts for more than half of the expenses associated with last-mile delivery. And with labor, there are many issues that the logistics companies have to manage, such as rising costs, availability, and scheduling. That is why some of them are shifting their focus to robotic delivery in the form of self-driving vehicles, drones, and autonomous delivery bots.
3. INCREASE IN URBAN WAREHOUSES
Logistics companies have been witnessing rapid growth in same-day deliveries over recent years. It is expected that their market share will reach a combined share of 20%-25% of the entire last-mile delivery market by 2025. To catch up with this trend, they are increasingly building warehouses in metropolitan cities for the immediate delivery of products. They are hoping to significantly reduce their delivery time while simplifying the work of delivery executives.
4. IMPORTANCE OF BIG DATA
Another trend that has gained importance is the increasing use of big data by companies for predictive analytics to optimize the delivery process. It is indeed the next big thing for the industry. It’s being used in almost every aspect of last-mile delivery including planning, rerouting, and even inventory management. Companies are hoping to boost their revenue by making well-informed decisions based on the huge volumes of data accessible to them.
5. DRIVERS BECOME MERCHANTS
As customer demand is rising, logistics companies are looking for more innovative solutions to gain a competitive edge in the market. They have begun using delivery agents to increase sales. While Big Data has been helping them predict the customers’ behavior towards their products, their agents are engaged in word-of-mouth publicity for your brand.
Exciting things have been happening in last-mile logistics. However, the level of technology being used to push the frontiers of this market and same-day delivery is getting more complex while enhancing the scope of the market. That’s why it’s vital for logistics companies to take note of these trends in last-mile logistics today, so they may be able to maintain their competitive advantage.
There was a strong trend in growth in last-mile delivery pre-pandemic, which was proving challenging for businesses but also driving innovations. Then came 2020, and the demand for delivery services exploded. If you were a small e-commerce business owner with your own delivery system during last year, you were at an advantage. But think of the neighborhood grocery store, which had to provide increased slots for home deliveries or risk going out of business. At the peak of the pandemic, online grocery spending in the US surged to about 15% from the previous 3 to 4% levels. These businesses had to resort to gig economy services as the last resort, escalating costs and strains on the system never seen before.
While lockdowns have eased, consumer preferences for online shopping aren’t expected to decline. For instance, in furnishings and appliances, while 46% of consumers using online channels for purchase pre-pandemic, now 60% will do so in the post-Covid-19 world. As a business owner, you now need to have a sound approach to meet the surging demand for home deliveries. Whether you are a retail store or a logistics company, you need a robust courier software to meet customer expectations and drive true differentiation.
PICKING THE RIGHT COURIER SOFTWARE
Dynamic Route Optimization Feature
With soaring petrol and diesel prices globally, it is more important than ever to reduce your vehicle operating costs and increase dispatcher productivity. Not to mention, that customers demand same-day deliveries. In the pre-pandemic era, a quarter of customers would pay a premium for that. A route optimization feature will help you reduce fuel costs, overall maintenance costs, and the risk of exposure for delivery partners. They can complete their jobs in the shortest possible time.
Easy API Integrations
If the software has standardized integration functionalities, it can improve your prospects to capture new business. Suppose a low-volume local shipper would like to collaborate with you and reduce your burden of increased door-to-door delivery demands. They can simply connect to the system through API integration, dynamically create orders, get quotes, and track shipments. This can enable them to grow their business too, creating a win-win partnership.
Dashboard Reporting in Detail
You might want to get detailed dashboard reports on your device, with real-time and historic data on a user-friendly interface. The managers will be able to focus on various KPIs to drive efficiency, by visualizing and analyzing data. They will have increased access to time-sensitive information.
Automation and Contactless Technologies
Contactless technologies not only enhance dispatcher productivity but also are crucial to surviving in the post-pandemic world. Dispatchers should be able to find the best driver for delivery based on pre-defined rules and real-time conditions. Geofence automation can further elevate driver accountability and compliance through arrival and departure timestamps. Further, if a package is left without a signature a visual proof of delivery (VPOD), can help you assure customers.
With customer expectations changing dramatically post-pandemic, the right courier software can help you drive loyalty, accountability, and growth in the bottom lines.
The supply chain proved to be a critical lifeline during the pandemic-induced restrictions. As the holidays are coming around the corner, we know it will reach its peak for the year. However, disrupted supply chains have caused major issues for companies and economies around the world. As many as 94% of the Fortune 1000 companies are suffering due to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. More than half of these companies have downgraded or are contemplating reducing their growth outlooks.
During these trying times and the holiday season, it has become even more vital for companies to manage their logistics more efficiently. So, here are some common mistakes to avoid when making deliveries to customers during the holiday season.
NOT LEVERAGING ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY
The covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for digitalization. Cutting-edge technology saved the day, providing solutions for smooth communication, collaboration, and coordination.
Statista: Adoption of Cutting-Edge Technologies by Supply Chain Companies in 2020
Advanced technology solutions help manage deliveries efficiently, lowering costs, minimizing errors, and enhancing customer satisfaction. Advanced logistics software provides real-time data to improve decision-making.
By increasing transparency through the complete process, from order creation to product delivery, such solutions are helping the logistics sector to:
- Ensure route optimization to prevent wastage of manhours and fuel
- Ensure same-day, scheduled, and on-demand deliveries
- Respond to order status inquiries quickly and effectively
- Identify urgent orders and process them accordingly
- Generate comprehensive reports for informed decision-making
With these in place, logistics companies have been able to:
- Reduce instances of failed deliveries
- Reduce vehicle operation cost
- Increase dispatcher productivity
- Improve customer service
- Enhance branding
Storms are the only natural cause of the top ten reasons for damage to delivery parcels. Non-natural events account for as much as 87% of the total value of claims and as high as 95% of the number of claims. The probability of damage to parcels during shipping can be prevented by using proper packaging. Improving packaging material and technique may increase the cost of delivery, but this is minuscule compared to the costs associated with customers receiving damaged goods.
INACCURATE DATA ENTERED
The culprit of inaccurate data is human error. While human errors may seem natural and small, inaccuracies in data caused by such lapses are resulting in businesses losing millions of dollars every year.
The most common human errors include:
- Incorrect freight weighted recorded
- Inaccurate shipment class selected
- Incorrect or incomplete addresses entered
- Miss in recording all relevant data (like availability of the recipient at the time of delivery)
On the other hand, simply by automating storage and retrieval at warehouses, companies have increased their order accuracy levels to more than 99%.
NOT TREATING THE CUSTOMER AS KING
Many logistics companies lose business by not offering sufficient shipping options to customers, like same-day and scheduled deliveries. With effective tracking tools in place, logistics companies can offer various shipping options as well as provide customers regular updates of their packages in transit. Tracking of returns and replacements also becomes easier and removes uncertainties for customers.
Customers becoming increasingly discerning and the business landscape growing more competitive has made it even more critical for logistics companies to use the right software solutions and avoid mistakes. This not only improves the bottom line but also protects and increases the company’s brand equity over time.
The logistics industry has been witnessing a constantly growing demand over the years. It has given rise to technological advancements and automation to keep up with the demand. However, one of the main areas of interest for the logistics companies in this industry has been last-mile delivery optimization. A recent report indicates that this last stage of the delivery process accounts for almost 53% of the total delivery costs. So, the technologies and process innovations related to the last-mile delivery stage demand special attention in the coming years.
One such interesting development in this field has been the growing use of critical algorithms and analytics based on the data gathered from the last-mile delivery platforms. Most logistics companies are relying on data analytics to improve their services and address the rising customer expectations.
HOW DATA ANALYTICS IS TRANSFORMING LAST-MILE DELIVERY
If you are in the logistics business, you can no longer rely on waybills and hand-written receipts or notes without barcodes. It is not only time-consuming but also runs the risk of human errors. And, if you are using last-mile delivery software for dispatching orders and effectively tracking them, then you need to make use of the huge volumes of collected data to maximize benefits.
You can trust analytics to quickly come up with the best solutions to optimize the delivery process. For instance, you can use the delivery management platform to auto-select the best fleet option and route for each shipment while ensuring efficient load-planning and enabling real-time tracking of shipment.
Being in the logistics industry, you need to always stay updated on the traffic and weather conditions to ensure timely deliveries. This is where data analytics can help. With access to real-time data, you can utilize your delivery software to quickly adapt to changes in delivery requirements and traffic information. If any upcoming traffic jams or bad weather is anticipated based on the data, you can take the benefit of dynamic routing to come up with an alternative and more efficient route.
Data analytics can help with the inventory management at the warehouses as well so that you can minimize the time required to make same-day and instant deliveries. With abundant real-time data at hand, your delivery managers get access to accurate information regarding product availability and expected delivery time to your customers. You can also keep your customers apprised of their order status at all times and alert them of any potential delays. They can easily access all information related to their order including when their order has been shipped, the expected delivery date and time, and whether a customer signature is required. It will ensure better expectation management and trust among your customers.
Another benefit of data analytics is that you can encourage customers to provide feedback regarding their overall experience with the delivery process. This rating system allows new customers to trust your delivery company and maintain the loyalty of existing customers. If any customer faces any issues such as lateness or damaged/missing items, you can use this data to identify the weaknesses in your delivery chain and improve your services.
The last-mile delivery industry is constantly going through changes in recent years. Automation and delivery optimization are becoming crucial for the success of every business in this industry. Data analytics is one promising tool that can allow you to boost your logistics business and enhance customer satisfaction.
Automation is rapidly transforming almost every aspect of the entire parcel delivery chain. You will find businesses of all shapes and sizes implementing Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as RFID chips for automated transportation tracking, delicate warehouse management systems, etc. They are constantly investing in new technology to automate the last-mile delivery process so that they can reduce costs and increase efficiency. A crucial aspect of automation is the use of last-mile delivery platforms that seamlessly integrates various parts of this delivery stage to optimize operations.
IMPORTANCE OF LAST-MILE DELIVERY PLATFORMS IN AUTOMATION
An efficient delivery management platform provides automation and tracking visibility to the logistics businesses so that they can effectively close last-mile delivery gaps. The fewer tasks that are handled manually, the more efficiency you will find in the entire process.
One big advantage of using such a platform is that it unifies delivery and fulfillment models onto a single platform that allows you to grow, respond to market demands, and leverage data insights. For instance, you can use it along with an automated dispatch software. It will help you automate the flow of valuable, customizable, and time-sensitive information to ensure accuracy, accountability, and greater profits.
You also get access to Big Data from these platforms with which you can create personalized customer journeys, learn consumer behaviors, and accommodate customers’ purchasing habits. It can significantly boost your revenue and ensure customer satisfaction.
PRIMARY AREAS FOR AUTOMATION
If you are looking to introduce technology to automate the last-mile delivery stage, you should focus on these three core areas for optimal benefits:
Routing and Dispatching
The primary goal of automation in the last-mile delivery process is almost the same as the goal in the rest of the delivery chain – to reduce costs, minimize human error, and promote efficiency. When you automate, you can quickly calculate efficient routes and automatically dispatch drivers for those routes and handle all orders, especially same-day deliveries. It is estimated that the demand for same-day and instant deliveries may reach a combined share of 20%-25% of the entire last-mile delivery market by 2025. So, it becomes extremely important to be able to handle such deliveries and maximize your revenue from this growing market.
A recent report revealed that 73% of customers would like to receive their parcels in a convenient time slot rather than receiving them quickly. So, simply prompt deliveries won’t be sufficient to keep them happy. This is where automation of the process becomes important. If you can plan the deliveries effectively with automated dispatch software and keep your customers apprised of their order status at all times, you can rest assured that they will choose your services the next time as well.
It is hard to ignore the truth that labor is expensive, and you can’t depend on manual processes if you want to save money. Automating the pick-up process from the warehouse and invoicing at the time of delivery will ensure nothing but better cash flow, fewer errors, and significantly reduced labor time spent on these processes.
The recent wave of technological advancements across the world of parcel delivery offers a wide range of benefits. If you want to make the most of these benefits, then you should encourage automation and technological adoption at almost every step of the delivery process.
Courier companies are under constant pressure to improve the order fulfillment experience of their customers. While the value of same-day delivery sales has grown exponentially from practically zero in 2013 to over $4 billion in 2018, nearly 65% of companies have been pushed to offer same-day delivery to their customers. This has encouraged them to turn to innovative solutions for reducing delivery times while optimizing delivery operations.
Here are six tips that you can bring into practice to streamline your delivery process:
1. OPTIMIZE DELIVERY ROUTES
There have been continuous efforts to optimize the delivery routes to prevent any unnecessary delays since the delivery costs are directly related to the distance between the pick-up and drop points. So, you need to invest in the latest technologies to be aware of real-time scenarios such as traffic, weather, construction, etc. For instance, with the help of GPS tracking software, you can ensure route optimization and bring down the shipping costs.
2. FOCUS MORE ON AUTOMATION
Being in this industry, you can never underestimate the importance of automation in the delivery process. With the help of advanced innovations like autonomous vehicles or delivery drones, you can improve your delivery time and accuracy. Although these radical solutions are slowly being adapted into the delivery process, you can always use other efficient technologies like augmented reality solutions to offer your drivers more information about their environment and the packages still on board.
3. IMPROVE COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR WAREHOUSE
Warehouse communication is often neglected by logistics companies. Quick communication is a crucial part of maintaining prompt deliveries. It will help you not only manage stock but also ensure the influx of orders doesn’t come at you unexpectedly. You can even arrange for additional members of staff to be on hand to ensure all your parcels are sent accordingly.
4. USE SCANNING DEVICES TO LOCATE YOUR ITEMS
For smoother deliveries, you should be able to identify the exact location of each item in your warehouse. Otherwise, it will be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This is why it’s ideal to deploy scanning devices wherever possible. They will help you locate items quickly and let you know how much stock you have. These devices are great time savers and reduce the risk of human error. Plus, you can save hours of labor and money.
5. USE ELECTRONIC DATA INTERCHANGE
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is ideal for businesses that have a lot of paperwork to process. This technique will replace paperwork with more efficient electronic data. It will help you make the entire shipping process quicker as well as convenient since your delivery agents will not have to carry around countless pieces of loose paper. Another advantage of using EDI is that it boosts productivity while minimizing errors.
6. ENSURE REVERSE LOGISTICS
You should have a proper reverse logistics plan in place to minimize the costs of product returns. This way you can reduce the capital tied into inventory and enhance the overall transparency of the supply chain.
Maintaining your dominance in this market can be challenging. That is why you should constantly upgrade your delivery process with the advancement in technologies. These smart tips will help you bring down the costs and improve the overall delivery process.