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Tracking the final mile: Why real-time tracking is important for retail success – Retail Customer Experience

Jay Sackos, a vice president at Dolly, shares insight on why efficient tracking is key to successful delivery strategies when it comes to e-commerce.

At the heart of every e-commerce business, setting up the right logistics system for processing and implementing deliveries is vital. As technology continues to improve, customers’ desires for deliveries match the need to know their packages’ locations.

For any business to successfully carry out deliveries, efficient tracking is crucial. While logistics companies can now provide simplified tracking systems for customers, the concept and tracking methods weren’t always fast or accurate.

Evolution of delivery tracking systems

Long before businesses set up in-house deliveries, transportation of packages in the late 18th and 19th centuries was by mail. While companies took measures to ensure the safety of packages, there was little to no traceable information about the package.

The 1900s

Local postal services in different countries stepped into the computer age with variations of tracking systems for their mail. However, optimizing these systems for efficiency and accuracy was a bit of a challenge. Then, FedEx introduced tracking numbers for the delivery process in the late 1900s.

Initially, FedEx created the tracking number to help the company manage quality control. However, in 1979 it was modified as a Customers, Operations, and Services Master Online System.

In 1990, UPS began electronically tracking packages with its Delivery Information Acquisition Device. The DIAD was a clipboard-like device that drivers used to upload information at a UPS facility after completing a delivery route.

FedEx achieved another delivery milestone in 1994 when launched. The website created tracking IDs for businesses, providing the numbers and links for customers to track their packages.

Millennium advancements

From the early 2000s to the 2010s, in line with the evolution of the UPS DIAD, improvements in technology introduced real-time location reports and automated analytics to tracking systems. Tracking packages were simplified for customers while providing data to help companies manage and analyze sustainability.

Businesses, including Amazon and AliExpress, offered customers the ability to track packages with the courier’s route and contact information. The improved systems made it possible for businesses to manage customer relationships by providing reliable and accurate tracking information.

Today, every business offers deliveries to customers through its couriers, which may belong to them or source from third-party companies.

The technology behind product tracking

For customers, the delivery process is straightforward. They request the package, get the tracking information, and confirm that they have received the package. For the business, it is not so clear.

The technology behind real-time, map-oriented last-mile tracking for product delivery is extensive. However, for any on-demand delivery company to be efficient, integrating location reporting services is a must.

From customer locations to courier routes, location-based services are the technology behind real-time product tracking for last-mile deliveries. Services like Google Maps Geocoding and Directions provide navigated directions with additional details like shortest and fastest routes. In addition to these services, Distance Matrix calculates the distance between locations through Google Maps and converts it into an ‘Estimated Time of Arrival ‘.

The unique features of these services support seamless tracking systems for businesses to optimize efficiency and customer satisfaction.

But the best part is retailers don’t have to develop the technology yourself. There are third-party last-mile delivery providers that have already built platforms that offer mapping and product tracking that can help create custom delivery services that offer real-time, down to the minute ETAs.

Why real-time tracking Is imperative

Customers are more willing to engage with a brand that offers speedy and convenient delivery services. Real-time tracking is one of the best ways to ensure customer satisfaction with the current demands for delivery, for the following reasons.

It avoids scheduling challenges

Final-mile tracking information provides your customers with details that ensure they’re available to receive their products. This, in turn, helps avoid missed deliveries, which can displease customers and affect your business’s reputation.

It helps manage risks

Real-time GPS allows you to send deliveries out in the most optimal weather and traffic conditions. Or can create specific routes that optimize travel time, gas usage, and time spent on the road without a load. This helps increase productivity, while managing transportation and labor costs.

It builds customer loyalty

Customers appreciate when a business pays attention to their delivery needs. Efficient tracking of your last-mile delivery system improves customer satisfaction, meaning an increase in customer retention. And loyal customers mean more sales and higher satisfaction ratings.

It keeps same-day deliveries on track

Optimized tracking helps you better analyze the best way to deliver products quickly, based on distance between locations. Good are delivered to your customers, in excellent condition, and within their time frames.

Business growth

If you aren’t prioritizing delivery as a success metric for customer service experience, your customers are likely to leave you for someone who is. And as a business owner, information about packages shipped out to customers is essential for measuring business growth.

Understand what today’s customers truly want when it comes to delivery — it may not be the fastest delivery or the least expensive, but the one that arrives when it says it will and communicates this information readily to your customer.

Jay Sackos is a vice president of Dolly


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