Wrestling with time, absent recipients & poor addressing in Last-Mile deliveries

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Combattento contro il tempo, i destinatari assenti e gli indirizzi incompleti nelle consegne ultimo-miglio

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Delivery drivers live with a sword of Damocles hanging above their heads: time. From couriers running to complete their daily quota of deliveries to high-tech startups pinpointing time slots, time remains one of the most important factors in the last-mile race.

Inside the last mile, the last yard presents two common time-consuming issues: recipients not at home and incorrect or vague addressing. To solve these, several companies are trying wildly different approaches.

Fixing bad addressing, or no addressing at all, is the core objective of our friends at What3Words. They have divided the world’s surface into grids measuring 3x3m and assigned a three-word marker to each one. Simple and effective, especially in emerging Nations where addressing is almost non-existent. Seven Countries have already signed up to replace their entire addressing system with a W3W one, among them Mongolia and Nigeria.

This solution has been adopted by last-mile players in Europe too: Quiqup, Parcelly and BlackBay are among those who offer a W3W option on their platforms and Apps. Of course, GPS geolocation inside cities is not as precise as in more open settings, with urban canyons expanding error margins by several meters (up to almost 30) and sometimes frustrating the 3×3 agenda, which is ideal for pinpointing doors.

Startups like Fetchr and Parcify are experimenting with deliveries made not necessarily at home but at the actual GPS location of the Shopper. This should solve both the addressing and the not-at-home problems but opens up a whole other set of issues, first of all, the impossibility of planning routes in advance. It could work with an ultra-on-demand crowdsourced model.

DPD, with its highly successful Your DPD mobile App, is testing another solution for the not-at-home conundrum: “The app uses geo-location based technology that automatically alerts the driver when a customer who was out at the time a delivery was first attempted, returns home. Meaning the driver can add a second delivery to an address before finishing their round, reducing the likelihood of returning a parcel to the depot”.

Here at Milkman we bet hard on letting Shoppers decide their favourite day and time slot for delivery, up to one hour, with ETA updates that further reduce the window to 30 minutes. Free rescheduling, up to the very end, has also proven useful: it’s better to proceed with the next delivery than to lose precious minutes waiting for someone who’s not there. We recently added the option of tracking the van on a map in real time, a feature much loved by our Users.

Of course, not everyone wants to pay for a premium one-hour time window. It then becomes very important to let Shoppers freely explore every time-price option, so that they can choose the most convenient. Remember: they’ve got as much to lose as us from a failed delivery.

When Shoppers sign up for our service, we encourage them to fill out a very precise address form, adding possibly extensive notes: presence of a Doorman, his work hours, apartment floor, mobile number and so on. A down-to-earth approach that pays good dividends.

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