CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
April 24, 2019
Forward Thinking

Survey: retailers have failed to improve last-mile delivery for customers

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Supply chain professionals say challenges in data sharing stymie collaboration, according to Convey and eft.

Challenges in sharing data have blocked retail supply chain professionals from improving shoppers' customer experience (CX) through better last-mile delivery practices, a survey reveals.

The finding came despite companies' increased understanding and measurement of supply chain's impact on CX, according to the survey commissioned by logistics technology firm Convey Inc. and conducted by conference organizer eyefortransport (eft).

Despite that rising awareness of the importance of supply chain practices to end customers, little progress has been made towards implementing tools or processes to improve outcomes in the last two years, the survey found. "There's a lot of room for improvement in the last mile, and it's a really important aspect of the customer experience. It goes back to the basics," Poonam Goyal, sector head/senior retail analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, who provided commentary for the report, said in a release.

The report, titled "The Perfect Order: Overcoming Roadblocks in Last Mile Experience," surveyed more than 230 retail supply chain professionals in order to revisit questions first tackled in a 2017 survey.

According to the survey results, 96 percent of respondents consider CX important when measuring last mile supply chain performance, up from 83 percent in 2017. However, technologies are still not addressing CX needs—only 5 percent of companies said their current systems "fully support efforts to improve the customer experience," barely up from 3 percent two years ago.

In fact, 61 percent reported that their existing systems do nothing to improve CX, down only 5 percent decrease since 2017. That led 89 percent of survey respondents to say they are not confident they can balance customer experience demands with rising transportation costs.

One of the biggest roadblocks to improved customer experiences is siloed data, the survey found. Two-thirds of companies (66 percent) said that connecting disparate data quickly is among their top three challenges and 18 percent admitted they had zero visibility into distressed shipments. Put another way, 60 percent of customer service and logistics teams don't share delivery feedback or data about distressed packages with each other.

"While the industry is getting more sophisticated, [delivery] CX-focused technology solutions are still highly disaggregated," Matt Bergerson, director of omnichannel experience and operations at outdoor clothing retailer REI, said in a release. "Whether it's order management, customer data, freight pay and cost analysis data, or order tracking, there is no one stop shop for solutions and data sets supporting last mile."

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