Last mile delivery and the human face of ecommerce

It is arguably the single most important stage of ecommerce. Yet the last mile of delivery is often the most neglected.

No matter how good you are at acquiring traffic, or how impressive your website is, or how easy it is for people to purchase, it can all turn to mud in the end, leaving a lasting and damaging reflection on your brand.

And you might never even know about it.

What is last mile delivery?

Put simply, the ‘last mile’ of delivery is the final step of the ecommerce shopping experience – when your customer receives your product.

For customers, it is the moment of ecommerce consummation.

But all too often, the ecommerce merchant has delegated (in extreme cases, abdicated) responsibility to the shipping partner and already moved onto their next conversion.

The human face of ecommerce

Meet Ellie. Not her real name, but for the people in my neighbourhood, Ellie is the real face of ecommerce.

Most mornings, I’m fortunate enough to start my day with a few laps of the streets around my house. And over the last few months, I’ve been seeing a lot of Ellie.

‘Ellie’ maintains good COVID19 practice, but kindly removed her face mask at a safe social distance to share her big smile!

In fact, Ellie has delivered quite a number of online orders to my own door. Always with a beaming, friendly smile.

She knows me well enough now, that sometimes she will pass me on her route and simply ask if I’m happy for a package to be left on the doorstep. This is how it should be.

Across the country, across every country, there are thousands of people like Ellie delivering your products to your customers. And I can tell you from personal experience, they are not all as friendly or diligent as Ellie.

The inconvenient truth

On the one occasion in recent months when someone other than Ellie was delivering in our neighbourhood, my wife received a text message asking if nobody was going to be home, was it okay to leave somewhere safe.

We were home. It was about 6.55am. But before my wife could even answer the text message (which was within 5 mins), someone had already been and gone.

The card they left behind said we could ‘collect the package from the parcel sorting office after 4pm’ the same day. WTF?

About 4 hours later, around 11am, we received another text message. This time telling us the package was ‘now ready for collection’. OK cool.

So at lunchtime, I jumped in the car and went to the nearby parcel sorting office. Only to be told the parcel was ‘not ready for collection’.

I managed to contain my frustration and showed the man our second text message. He then closed the hatch and came back a moment later with the package. I signed and left with the parcel.

So the order was finally received. Not delivered, but collected.

This was well below the level of service I have come to enjoy from Ellie. But by no means the worst ecommerce parcel delivery I have ever experienced.

Failing to deliver in the last mile

What most ecommerce stores do

Most ecommerce stores offer some form of ‘track and trace’. So in the worst case scenario a missing order can be tracked down and retrieved.

More typically, the software will simply fire off an automated and highly impersonal confirmation email and/or text message, containing not much more than a number.

Many ecommerce stores will then also swiftly move into marketing mode again. Follow up emails with incentives to repeat purchase and/or provide a customer review are certainly effective.

But if you’re a customer and you’ve barely unboxed your delivery, isn’t this a bit premature?

What you could do to stand out from the crowd

Before you ask for something else, how about you start by simply checking with your customer if they received their order? And if everything was actually okay and as expected?

It staggers me that very few stores do this. Yet, it is relatively simple to do this with Klaviyo. And would send a really positive message about your brand.

There are two ways you could achieve this with Klaviyo:

  1. At a basic level, you could create a simple automated email triggered to send a number days after a ‘Fulfilled Order’ event. Just work out how long it takes for most deliveries to arrive.
  2. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, go a step further. Integrate either AfterShip or ShipStation with Klaviyo, then use a ‘Received Delivery’ metric to trigger an email when you know the customer has just received your goods.

But in either case, ask only one thing: ‘Is everything okay?’

Simply showing that you care will probably blow their mind!

  • If everything is okay, any subsequent marketing message will have greater cut through
  • But if something isn’t okay, you’re already on the front foot and have a chance to remedy the situation before it becomes a real issue.

Don’t treat your customers like a number. Be like Ellie. Be a ‘star’. Be the human face of ecommerce.

What now?

If you’d like me to blog on How To implement either of these automated flows, or just share your own experiences of the last mile, please use the comments section below.

Related Klaviyo help centre documents:

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3 thoughts on “Last mile delivery”

  1. Great article Murray!

    I had an “Ellie” in my neighbourhood too but the drivers keep changing and now I have to “retrain” them to get them to leave my parcels in the right spot.

    StarTrack has been great! Thank you for writing this article.

    1. Thanks Jessie. Yes, performance in the last mile can be extremely patchy. Hence, I would encourage all merchants to follow up and not assume everything is okay. Klaviyo is perfect for this 🙂

      1. Totally agree! Klaviyo is great for these situations.

        I would also strongly recommend that merchants just avoid using Fastway. They’re not only NOT the “fastest”, they never show up for pick ups!

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