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The Last Mile Warehouse and How To Optimise It

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Distribution points for a last mile warehouse

More than 85% of people in Australia shop online. This is a quick and easy way for customers to access the products they need from the comfort of their own homes.

The rise in online shopping has also created more jobs for delivery services and warehouses across the country. However, this involves a lot of logistical planning, and consumers have high expectations of their delivery services.

In fact, most Australian shoppers expect their goods within a maximum of six days. So, if you run a last mile warehouse, you have a lot of demands to meet. Fortunately, you can make things easier for yourself and your staff by optimising your warehouse.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about running an efficient last mile warehouse.

What Is Last Mile Delivery?

When customers order something online, their parcel delivery goes through several stages. This might involve manufacturing or shipping goods from one country to another.

The final stage of this process is known as last mile delivery. This is the process of shipping an order from the distribution warehouse directly to the customer. These distribution warehouses are also known as last mile warehouses. Companies can have several distribution points close to their customers enabling fast delivery when orders are received.

How Do Last Mile Warehouses Assist eCommerce Businesses?

Around 12 million eCommerce businesses are operating around the world right now. Last-mile warehouses support them by transporting orders from the supply chain to their customers.

This means that eCommerce businesses do not have to store all of their stock themselves. It also assists to reduce their overall delivery costs.

What Are the Challenges of Last-Mile Delivery?

Due to the vast number of people shopping online, last mile delivery warehouses face various challenges. These include:

  • Understanding how to support manufacturers and supply chains
  • Improving customer satisfaction and communication
  • Handling vast numbers of orders in densely populated areas
  • Reduce last mile delivery costs
  • Improving delivery route efficiency
  • Sticking to a realistic delivery timeline and schedule
  • Managing vast quantities of stock for eCommerce businesses

Fortunately, there are plenty of practical steps that you can take to overcome last-mile delivery challenges. Let’s take a closer look at how you can optimise last-mile logistics.

Choosing the Best Location for Last Mile Warehouses

Finding the best locations for your warehouses is essential for last mile optimisation. This needs to be a place that is easy for your delivery drivers to reach. Ideally, it should be out of the way of busy routes affected by rush hour traffic.

Your warehouse locations also shouldn’t add to their delivery journey times. This ensures that delivery drivers can make as many stops as possible during the day.

In cities, for example, last mile delivery companies should increase their number of warehouses.

This is the best way to serve many customers in a single day. It also means that if there is heavy traffic, this won’t affect all of your orders.

Use Automated Software for Order Processing

Running a last mile warehouse doesn’t just involve sending goods out for delivery. You also have to receive them from manufacturers and store them throughout your warehouse.

In a big warehouse, this involves processing a lot of data in one go. It can assist to use processing software.

This will log every item that arrives and add it to your inventory. These systems can also quickly assess where each order needs to go. It will then allocate these to drivers to improve delivery efficiency.

This makes it easier to keep track of your inventory and ensure it reaches customers as quickly as possible.

Overhaul Your Last Mile Warehouse Management System

Significantly improving your warehouse management usually requires a significant overhaul.

It is an excellent idea to do this in one go rather than constantly tweaking your existing system. An overhaul ensures that all aspects of your management system are up to date, so they can run smoothly together.

Overhauling your system involves reviewing every aspect of your warehouse management. This includes looking at:

  • Your order receiving processes
  • How you process and package orders
  • Your order fulfilment process
  • Your order shipping timelines
  • The storage equipment you use

It is also worth looking at how you log and track your inventory. For example, using automated tracking and barcodes can make this much more efficient.

If you are introducing a new warehouse management system, it is crucial to provide staff training. This ensures that everyone understands how the new system works quickly, so your warehouse can start reaping the benefits of it!

Review Your Floorplan and Inventory Locations

The warehouse floorplan is often something that is overlooked in last mile warehouse optimisation. This usually happens because people are focusing on technological solutions.

However, a well-organised floor plan can make a world of difference in a warehouse. This dictates how long it takes your employees to get around your warehouse and locate parcels for delivery.

When organising a warehouse, you need to consider:

  • Where you plan to receive goods
  • Where product packing is going to take place
  • Where deliveries will be leaving from
  • What the storage requirements of your packages are
  • How easy and safe your warehouse is to navigate

For example, you may choose to pack all of your stock when it arrives. This means that you can fulfil orders quickly when you receive them. In that case, having your delivery entrance and packing station near one another makes sense.

It is also a good idea to consider the last mile delivery drivers’ routes to and from your warehouse. You want drivers collecting deliveries to be able to pick up goods and hit their route quickly. Because of this, it can assist to have separate delivery and collection points on either side of your warehouse.

It is worth noting that your warehouse floorplan can have a significant impact on the safety of your employees. Because of this, your warehouse has to meet specific authority guidelines. Without this, your business could face serious fines.

Use Smart Technology to Track Deliveries

When it comes to customer satisfaction, tracking technology has made an enormous difference.

This allows you to update customers on where their deliveries are. It also means that you can provide accurate delivery dates and windows. So it is worth making the most of this!

If you use tracking technology in your warehouse, you can continue using this when goods are out for delivery. All you need is GPS tracking for your delivery vans.

You can share order information with your customers so that they can see exactly where their package is on a delivery day. This also assists you to protect drivers while they are on the road. If a delivery driver gets into difficulty, your system will quickly flag this up so you can check in with them.

Anticipate Shipping Trends

Before online shopping was all the rage, last mile warehouses were much quieter places. After all, there were fewer packages to process and keep track of.

This has all changed in the last ten years or so. Now, you have to act quickly to fulfil customer orders when they come in. This requires a colossal workforce operating 24/7, which can be very expensive.

This is where anticipating shipping trends can assist. This essentially involves using AI to identify products that have been popular in your warehouse area. So they are packaged up and ready to go before customers have even placed an order.

This can also assist you to save money on packaging. It means you spend money packing goods you feel confident will sell quickly. This can assist you to reduce your costs over an extended period.

Monitor Your Costs

Speaking of reducing your costs, there is one fundamental way to reduce your bottom line. This involves monitoring your warehouse spending properly.

This will assist you to identify the most expensive areas of your warehouse. It can also assist you spot places where you could be saving money.

You should incorporate cost monitoring in your warehouse management system. This should keep a record of all of your expenditures. You can then compare this with your profits to see how efficiently your business runs.

Get Support Optimising Your Last Mile Warehouse Today

If you run an inefficient last mile warehouse, you could lose a lot of money—daily. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your warehouse procedures. Keep these in mind, and you can’t go wrong!

For support optimising your warehouse, check out our latest solutions and get in touch with Bowen Storage today. We’re here to assist!

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