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Optimizing Last Mile CX

In today’s omnichannel commerce landscape, retail organizations must deliver on customer expectations for experience, convenience, and price across an increasingly hybrid marketplace. Operational efficiencies and innovations in last mile fulfillment are one of the best ways for brands and retailers to create and enjoy a competitive advantage over their peers. The rise of e-commerce, and the new realities of consumers’ post-pandemic shopping habits has elevated delivery and order fulfillment as an essential service offering. Brands need to be able to adapt quickly to changing consumer expectations, while also ensuring that they deliver on the promises they’ve made about convenience. 

The rollout of 2-and-3-day and on-demand delivery capabilities has created new consumer standards. Shoppers now expect free same-week shipping, while loyalty and membership benefits are shifting from in-store perks to better delivery and return options. The need to cater to and support a digital-first shopper within a hybrid environment is rewriting the retail and CX landscape, and even has some companies rethinking the role of their physical stores by reimagining them as micro-fulfillment centers. Finding ways to get closer to consumers is an advantage, and these mixed-use centers can fulfill local delivery and curbside pickup orders while also serving customers’ in-person needs on the retail floor. 

Keeping shoppers happy along their purchase journey is what leads to repeat orders and increased engagement, and shopper happiness is increasingly being linked to rapid fulfillment of their order. This reality is something retailers of all sizes must face, and a host of innovative delivery-as-service solutions are rising to meet it. Retailers that lack a strong operational footprint are partnering with organizations, from big box retailers to eCommerce giants and transportation companies, that can serve as partner hubs for hyper-fast fulfillment and meet the always-on needs of shoppers. Spurred by contactless-habits and on-demand expectations coming out of the pandemic, autonomous delivery technologies from self-driving fleets to delivery drones are filling gaps in delivery networks and bringing brands closer to their customers. 

With the disruptions to daily life over the past almost-two-years, retail has been forever changed. Digital behaviors not only drive ecommerce growth, but also increasingly supplement in-store journeys and underpin shopper expectations around convenience. To help our members better understand the impact of growing expectations around the last mile experience, the PSFK research team has identified five key trends and capabilities optimizing the last mile journey while reshaping the shopper experience.