Several key factors have played a role in boosting the popularity of e-commerce platforms in recent years. Apart from the recent pandemic, the seamless and utterly hassle-free process of navigating a store’s website/app, clicking on the items you want, and then receiving them at your doorstep within several days is primarily the reason for its success.
But along with its popularity comes increasing demands as well. Speedy fulfilment and timely deliveries are important, as it’s something that customers naturally expect from their online shopping experience. To meet this demand, companies must face the greatest challenge in their logistics process: shorter waiting delivery cycle, if possible same-day, final mile delivery.
In their efforts to research ways to expedite deliveries in the last-mile, businesses naturally turn to the latest technologies and leverage the advantages they bring. One of such technologies is RFID.
However, before we dive into RFID’s role in last-mile delivery, let’s first discuss the issues it helps solve.
Last-Mile delivery: Definition & Problems faced
Last-mile delivery generally means the last step in the delivery process of products, wherein they make the final journey from the warehouse shelves to a customer’s doorstep. This journey is key to customer satisfaction, but it’s also fraught with problems, along with being time-consuming and expensive.
Below, we put together a couple of common issues that businesses face when doing last-mile delivery:
Customers keen on receiving their parcels will naturally be excited to know when their product is out for delivery, scheduled on a fixed day and yet receive it only after the advised date have lapsed.
This situation occurs because typically, the couriers tasked with delivering the parcels need to make multiple stops along the way, leading to possible delays.
Rural and urban destinations
A delivery route in rural locations usually entails drop-off points being several miles apart, with limited choice of drop off points.
It’s no better for the latter with possible delays from ever-present traffic congestion which offsets its closer stop proximity advantage.
Rise of e-commerce
Apart from these inefficiencies, the continuous popularity of e-commerce also directly correlates with increased costs for retailers and logistics partners.
This increase can be attributed to the fact that customers are becoming less and less inclined to foot the bill of a delivery fee ever since “free shipping” came into play in the e-commerce space to promote sales.
Benefits of RFID in Last-Mile logistics
Enhances out-for-delivery transparency
As stated earlier, the lack of transparency and an RTLS (real-time location system) after a package leaves the hub is a significant concern for customers.
To diminish their anxieties, RFID, in conjunction with other technologies such as GPS and IoT devices, can extend RTLS even while it’s already out for delivery. This added transparency can allow customers to see exactly how far off or close their packages are from their residence and be informed of an estimated delivery time.
In addition, they can even be notified of delays in the delivery if the system is modified for such a feature.
Improves order management and delivery planning
Delivery planning can be further improved while packages are still being sorted in the hub. Since RFID tags are able to associate data from a database, such as an individual parcel’s destination address, automated systems can simply scan each shipment and plot out varying drop-off points on a map.
Once the captured data is fed to a sophisticated algorithm, efficient delivery routes can then be swiftly created.
RFID paired with IoT sensors and accompanying technologies helps mitigate diversions, wait times, and unnecessary delivery attempts for couriers, significantly helping boost productivity in the final leg of a product’s journey.
Additionally, these sensors can also be placed on the delivery vehicles themselves, allowing management to acquire data on fuel consumption, average speed, and other insights that can help improve delivery patterns.
Due to increasing demand, RFID reader suppliers are now innovating to help solve many problems in various industries, such as the last-mile delivery issue in logistics. By including RFID into the solution, not only does it bring its usual benefits, but it also complements the other technologies it’s paired with.