As companies revise B2B last-mile strategies to provide fulfillment experiences similar to those enjoyed by B2C ecommerce, they continue to look at automation to improve efficiencies. Predictions that ecommerce will account for almost 20% of all B2B sales by next year means logistics teams need innovative B2B last-mile strategies.
Significantly fueled by the high bar set by retail and ecommerce giants, B2B buyers now expect lightning-fast deliveries, by-the-minute tracking, and seamless reverse logistics—all at little to no extra cost for them.
Leaning into customer-centric flexibility
The “Amazon effect” has influenced decisions about fulfillment experiences. As more B2B companies meet the demands of B2B buyers, perks such as real-time tracking and guaranteed deliveries are fast becoming the gold standard in B2B last-mile logistics.
Optimizing B2B last-mile strategies to field these challenges will require custom solutions to address the unique needs of B2B selling while using the right technology to scale.
Three key ways to reimagine B2B last-mile strategies:
- Aim for right time every time. For end-consumers, a delayed package is disappointing and, at most, mildly inconvenient. For enterprises, late deliveries can disrupt operations and impact profits. Perhaps not as obvious, early deliveries can be just as disruptive in B2B logistics, throwing a wrench in tight schedules and altering workflows.
Rather than fast deliveries, successful B2B last-mile strategies should focus on right-time deliveries that align with customers’ needs and capabilities. That means engaging with clients to establish delivery windows that work for all parties involved and providing them with frequent and accurate data on shipment lifecycles.
A TMS with dedicated parcel management capabilities provides B2B shippers visibility and agility to uphold right-time fulfillment promises. Real-time tracking and predictive analytics generate high-quality data that optimize day-to-day operations. Shippers can also feel confident relaying this data to clients.
- Integrate multiple carriers. With supply chain disruptions becoming the rule rather than the exception, shippers must grow carrier networks. More choices mean stronger contingency planning, greater opportunities for better rates, and a higher level of service.
Accessing a large pool of verified carriers with a TMS makes this process more efficient. Alternative carriers can satisfy a broader set of fulfillment needs, such as omnichannel deliveries and special order handling.
Although regional carrier capabilities may seem limited compared to large, multinational companies, their smaller size often means greater flexibility—a valuable asset for event management, busy periods, and last-minute requests.
- Double down on customer experience. In a landscape where disruptions abound and carrier rates rise, meeting customer demands while remaining competitive presents an ongoing dilemma for shippers. But, while lowering delivery costs or guaranteeing on-time deliveries may be unfeasible in some cases, reliability and transparency can go a long way at justifying higher costs or making up for delays.
Providing accurate shipping quotes is a great way to improve transparency and yield significant ROI. Accuracy can be challenging, especially with cross-border shipments that span multiple tax codes and jurisdictions. These factors lead to last-minute changes and final quotes far from the initially agreed figures. A third-party logistics provider (3PL) can help with details like calculating duties and fees, so they can always provide precise quotes.
Elsewhere, good communication and a commitment to continuous improvement will play a pivotal role in building effective B2B last-mile strategies. For example, combining client feedback with insights from analytics can help shippers pinpoint which processes need revisions to better align with customer needs. Likewise, right-time deliveries, flexibility, and efforts to improve accuracy throughout operations will yield significant payoffs in customer satisfaction and retention.
Build a better B2B last-mile strategy with CTSI-Global’s suite of logistics software tools. Contact us to learn more about how our parcel management system can help streamline every step of your last-mile process.