Growing role of AI, ML in optimizing last mile deliveries

Soham ChokshiUpdated: Saturday, March 12, 2022, 03:27 PM IST
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Getting away with manual processes can help brands streamline operations, boost customer experience, and realize greater value/Representative image |

Did you know that almost 53 percent of logistics costs are incurred in actualizing last-mile deliveries, making it the costliest leg of the entire supply chain operations? At the same time, the rise of hyperlocal deliveries and quick commerce means that deliveries must get faster. High logistics costs and the pressing need to shrink the delivery turnaround times have pushed brands to develop ways to tackle this necessary evil.

The increasing order volumes, shrinking order fulfillment windows, evolving customer expectations, and intensifying market competition necessitate brands to drop their old-age methodologies and embrace innovative technologies. Getting away with manual processes can help brands streamline operations, boost customer experience, and realize greater value. Here’s how AI and ML-powered logistics management platforms can help brands optimize their logistics process to achieve multi-faceted objectives.

Minimize manual dependencies for delivery scalability

Once an order comes in, the intelligent allocation engine automatically analyzes the historical data pertaining to the delivery aggregators/riders assigning the task to the most relevant resource. It follows the same criteria to select the best vehicle to carry out the logistics process. This eliminates dependencies, redundancies, and errors introduced through manual intervention to expedite order fulfillment. The benefits do not end over here. AI-powered logistics management platforms also capture real-time delivery KPIs to change SLA. The system then auto-corrects itself, as per the delivery benchmark to decide on future task allocation.

Decrease fuel consumption to increase delivery efficiency

AI-powered route optimization and planning engine charts out the shortest route to customer location. It automatically takes into account the various constraints like present traffic conditions, peak hours, road blockages, and diversions to take the most fuel-efficient route to the destination. It helps in making faster deliveries by minimizing deviations and enables fuel conservation. Geocoding converts addresses into exact coordinates( longitude and latitude) to reach the precise delivery location, every time. En-route order clubbing allows brands to combine forward and reverse logistics operations through a single trip. It maximizes deliveries per trip, reduces miles traveled, eliminates empty miles, enables multi-stop deliveries, increases driver productivity, and boosts overall delivery performance.

Vehicle capacity optimization picks the right delivery partner (fleet/third-party logistics provider) for the job. It considers vehicle type, model, distance, delivery load to choose the best vehicle for delivery. This not only utilizes vehicle capacity to optimum levels but also reduces trip volumes. Hence, it neither jeopardizes vehicle life nor compromises sustainability.

Boosting customer experience

In today’s times, customers demand end-to-end delivery visibility of their delivery. They want to know, when their order will arrive, who will bring the order, visibility over cash transactions, and also if they can change the delivery time to their preferred time slots. Dynamic route planners are great enablers in this regard. The solution triggers a notification to the end-customer by WhatsApp, SMS, or email once the order is out for delivery. The notification contains information relevant to delivery such as real-time tracking link, driver name, and ETA. It also empowers customers to change delivery time at their convenience.

Advance delivery visibility through predictive analysis

The ETA plays a decisive part in order placement. A far-fetched delivery date (ETA) discourages people from placing an order. Similarly, a delayed delivery oftentimes leads to returns/refunds. Delivery predictability through ETA comes in as a handy option for both customers and businesses to curb wasting time (waiting for order) and resources (returns).

Facilitating contactless deliveries

The rising cases of Omicron have once again urged people to opt for contactless deliveries and cashless transactions. EPODs (electronic proof of delivery) and last-mile online payment integration help eliminate the risk of virus contraction through human touch.

In this age, when delivery windows are continually shrinking and customer expectations are at an all-time high, having a robust technological platform can differentiate between a mediocre delivery experience and an unmatched one. AI and ML-powered logistics management platforms can be great enablers in this regard.

(Soham Chokshi is Co-Founder and CEO, Shipsy-a software-as-a-service or SaaS-based logistics management platform)

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