The final mile: Fixing supply chain’s weakest link

If the supply chain is a cake, then final mile is the icing. Not only is the icing the last step in the cake-making process but it’s also the most visible aspect of the dish itself. Comparably, the final mile is arguably the most important stage of the supply chain because of its visibility to customers.

A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. No matter how robust your logistics, a subpar delivery experience can tarnish the reputation of your entire brand.

Businesses often find it difficult to improve their final-mile deliveries and may not even know where to start. For the longest time, having to coordinate with carriers via multiple platforms was the norm. In addition, limited visibility, inconsistent pricing and poor communication between drivers and customers hindered development in this area of logistics.

Further, a greater emphasis on final-mile delivery has arisen amid the COVID-19 pandemic as consumer preference for at-home delivery has dramatically increased. Everything from household goods to groceries, even large items such as home appliances and automobiles can be purchased and delivered to one’s doorstep. As consumers adjust to this new way of shopping, meeting their expectations for faster deliveries and improved service quality must become one of your company’s greatest priorities.

The final-mile sector demands multimodal visibility. OneRail, a delivery-based orchestration and fulfillment platform, may have just what the industry needs.

OneRail manages shipments across all final-mile shipping modes and facilitates rate shopping to automate multimodal decisions among final-mile couriers, 3PLs and carriers. The delivery orchestration platform reduces fulfillment operation costs by 70% and increases delivery speed by 35%. Over 120 couriers make up its North American network of 4.5 million drivers, placing OneRail in virtually every market from coast to coast.

Jeff Flowers, OneRail CFO and COO, explained that the OneRail experience is unique for each user as shippers can adjust delivery preferences to prioritize time over economics or vice versa using a rules-based approach.

“What’s more important to your business? If it’s overall dependability, then you should prioritize time over economics,” Flowers said. “Let’s make sure that we meet that delivery promise 99.9% of the time. However, if they then decide to prioritize economics a bit more because they provide free delivery, then we can readjust the parameters accordingly.”

As shippers establish their delivery philosophies, OneRail configures which couriers will best suit their operations. 

“OneRail adjudicates deliveries based on the shipper’s decision of what’s most important to them,” Flowers said. “But we also police the heck out of our logistics providers and make sure that they meet the promise that the shippers asked us to provide.”

If a courier is found to be underperforming, then the logistics provider will be deprioritized on the network. However, OneRail does employ teams that can help fledgling couriers identify areas to improve to receive higher rankings.

OneRail founder and CEO Bill Catania explained the importance of keeping delivery promises. Even if your internal fleet has reached capacity, he warns that failure to provide multiple options for delivery can harshly impact one’s net promoter score (NPS), which is why Catania encourages internal fleets to fully optimize on the OneRail platform.

“With OneRail, you don’t have to miss a delivery promise because your network is fully taxed,” Catania said. “‘I don’t have another driver; I cannot deliver to you today’ — those are horrible excuses to tell a shipper’s client.”

Bill Hancock, chief supply chain officer of US Foods as well as a OneRail adviser, describes OneRail as a last-mile delivery integrator.

He explained that it’s often difficult…

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