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Delight customers with on-demand deliveries

20th Jul 2022
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When the Irish rapid grocery delivery firm Shuppa opened their first dark store for order fulfilment, they set out to prove that on-demand delivery for things like groceries “is a customer demand-led trend.”

Well, customers in the UK and Ireland have spoken, and they’ve offered pretty clear evidence that they’re going to continue needing food and drink, pet food, tyres, medicine, and more in a big hurry. The UK online grocery market alone is projected to reach higher than £22bn within the next three years, and a number of retailers, delivery apps, and other operators are trying to get in on the action, from Tesco to DoorDash to the Turkey based Getir.

However, as a recent article in The Grocer notes, meeting customer expectations for on-demand deliveries can be a huge challenge. Consumers often expect delivery turnaround measured in minutes, not hours, which makes difficult last mile fulfilment challenges even more acute. 

Luckily, last mile technology has gotten more sophisticated in recent years. Between advances in AI and machine learning and other improvements, it’s more feasible than ever to get local orders fulfilled within minutes. The trick is finding technology that can actually help you overcome the challenges of rapid deliveries.

Why Is On-Demand Delivery Such a Challenge?

Anyone who’s ever received a food delivery from DoorDash or similar knows that getting anything to an end customer in thirty minutes (let alone fifteen) is incredibly challenging. It requires a huge amount of things to go right and virtually nothing to go wrong. If the restaurant or retailer is out of an item that someone has already paid for, or if there’s unexpected traffic, the whole thing can turn into a huge pain. 

Here, everything that goes into a successful last mile delivery run has to be replicated in a matter of minutes. You need live inventory data, real-time information about driver/courier availability, clear communication between despatchers, drivers, and customers, efficient routes, and accurate ETAs. Much like traditional last mile deliveries, there’s simply no way to make this work efficiently by hand. 

How Can Your Technology Empower Rapid Delivery Turnarounds? 

In order to pull off the kinds of delivery turnarounds that consumers increasingly demand, your technology has to offer you a few key components:

  • Live driver and order data: You need to see orders as soon as they come in and check them against the locations and schedules of each of your drivers instantaneously. Once drivers are carrying out deliveries, you need to be able to track them easily and look out for exceptions. 
  • Streamlined routing and despatching: If you have to fuss with the output of your routing engine to get an efficient route, you end up wasting valuable minutes.
  • AI-powered delivery windows: In on-demand deliveries, showing up at exactly the right time is paramount, which is why you need to be able to predict exactly when the delivery is going to arrive. AI and machine learning can help you get there by analysing past traffic patterns and delivery times.
  • Robust customer communication: On-demand deliveries tend to be particularly high-touch for customers, which means you need the ability to easily send updates throughout the process. 
  • End-to-end functionality: At the end of the day, on-demand deliveries are a complex process, which means you need technology that can help you manage the process holistically, while still enabling you to handle individual delivery exceptions. 

Best Practices for On-Demand Deliveries

When you have the right technology, you can lay the groundwork to delight your customers with the rapid delivery turnaround times that they’re increasingly demanding. However, to stay one step ahead of the growing competition, there are some other best practices you can follow to ensure a robust customer experience that backs up your delivery promises. 

  • Automate wherever possible: speed is often antithetical to manual processes, which is why you want to be able to create delivery routes in a single click, automatically find the right drivers and dispatch orders to them, and track deliveries as they unfold. 
  • Offer customers real-time tracking: Offering live driver location data is pretty standard for things like food delivery, the real value add comes when you’re offering a live look into deliveries that are actually going according to plan. 
  • Prioritise data integration: One of the most frustrating experiences for customers is receiving an order that doesn’t have everything they expected, but frequent stockouts make that a common reality in many instances. The more effectively you can create live data flows between delivery systems and inventory/warehouse management systems, the more effectively you can avoid this fate. 

Demand for rapid order fulfilment in areas like grocery retail, pet food, tyres, etc. isn’t going away. For delivery organisations, this can be a huge opportunity to power growth and gain market share. The trick is to approach this complex process with the right mindset and the right technology.

 

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