last mile delivery
April 11, 2024

The Importance of Last Mile Delivery in Customer Experience


Effective delivery is essential to a positive customer experience. However, aligning with modern customer expectations is not so simple. Buyers today expect the items they want to be in stock and then delivered fast and affordably (if not for free). More than 50% of buyers also expect “quality customer service” throughout the delivery experience.

How can shippers create delivery programs that meet all the criteria? The best approach is to work backward, focusing on outstanding last mile delivery service.

Effective last mile delivery ensures that orders arrive quickly and with a high degree of customer service. Efficiency in the last mile also creates cost savings, which you can pass along to buyers in the form of affordable (or even free) shipping.

While the Amazons of the world can build and maintain self-managed last mile delivery services, it’s much harder for other businesses. At FRAYT, we serve as a strategic partner to shippers, helping them delight customers with outstanding last mile delivery experiences. Continue reading to learn more about using last mile services to meet customer expectations. and get in touch with us to discover what FRAYT can offer as your last mile partner.

Getting to Know Modern Customer Expectations

In the early days of e-commerce, customers didn’t expect much from the delivery process. Buying online was a novelty, and the speed and price of delivery weren’t significant factors. Amazon changed all of that with its Prime program, which established free, fast shipping as standard (for a membership price).

Now, the expectation for fast, affordable shipping has bled into industries outside of e-commerce. Even B2B buyers now have high expectations for delivery speed in price, including industrial supply deliveries, deliveries to construction job sites, manufacturing deliveries, plus others. 3PLs have been particularly impacted by this shift in expectations, as they have to execute fast, affordable deliveries on behalf of a range of customers — all of whom have trusted the 3PL to maintain a strong brand by aligning with customer expectations.

The consequences of failing to meet these expectations are stark: the loss of brand equity, a lack of repeat business, and a diminished competitive advantage.

To avoid these consequences, shippers must emphasize the three pillars of successful last mile delivery service.

The 3 Pillars of Last Mile Delivery That Delights Customers

While the last mile can be complex, there are three areas of focus that, when done successfully, help ensure satisfaction. Here’s a look at the three pillars of last mile delivery that delight customers.

1. Real-Time Updates and Customer Communication

Any customer has two primary questions about the delivery process:

  1. Where is my order?
  2. When will it arrive?

Shippers that can provide real-time updates and constant communication throughout the delivery process will be positioned to delight customers and achieve a competitive advantage. Updates and communication can be shared via email or SMS. It’s also important that customer support representatives have access to updates and communications so they can provide authoritative answers if and when customers reach out.

Constant communication can help alleviate the fallout from delivery disruptions. Customers are more forgiving of delays if they are communicated early in the process. Be sure to provide delivery alerts so that customers can make arrangements to receive those deliveries as needed.

2. Timeliness

As noted above, Amazon has conditioned customers of all types to expect timely deliveries. The faster you can fulfill an order, the more likely your customers will be to order from you again.

This is where the complexity of the last mile poses a challenge for shippers. It’s far easier to move products en masse through the first and middle miles when they are traveling from manufacturing centers to fulfillment and distribution hubs. It’s far more challenging to deliver orders to individual recipients in the last mile. Partnerships with firms that specialize in last mile delivery can be tremendously beneficial. These firms understand the nuances of last mile delivery services and know how to overcome the inherent complexities to deliver on time.

3PLs often rely on partnerships for rescue and recovery efforts. Pallets are often forgotten or otherwise left behind, and last mile partners can intervene to help get them back on track for timely deliveries.

3. Driver Quality

Driver quality is one of the most overlooked aspects of delighting customers in the last mile. Drivers are often the only brand representative your customers meet face-to-face. If they aren’t trained to serve as brand ambassadors, or if they make deliveries without the utmost care and attention to detail, your brand can suffer.

Hire drivers who understand the importance of this role and use diverse fleets that allow drivers to manage shipments with care and make timely deliveries. For example, sprinter vans are ideal for parcel deliveries in urban areas, whereas larger vehicles are needed for the delivery of industrial supplies and materials for construction and manufacturing.

Of course, it’s often cost-prohibitive for shippers to hire their own drivers and maintain their own fleets. This is where strategic last mile delivery partners provide value.

Partnerships: The Real Key to Last Mile Success

Shippers have three options for their last mile delivery programs:

  1. Self-manage
  2. Outsource to a third-party
  3. A hybrid approach with on-demand partners

The best approach will depend on the nature of your business. Again, it’s easy for Amazon to choose the first option because of the company’s resources, but it’s far more difficult for smaller businesses to self-manage. The sweet spot is often the third option — a hybrid approach where the shipper handles what it can but works with on-demand partners for assistance during high-volume periods or when assistance is otherwise needed.

When evaluating last mile delivery partners, look for firms that can help you build the three pillars needed to delight customers. Specifically, ensure your partners offer:

  • The technology needed for real-time updates, communications, and transparency.
  • Diverse fleets for different types of deliveries.
  • Quality drivers that understand customer service.

The right partner gives you capacity and expertise while helping you balance the need to keep costs low while delivering outstanding customer experiences.

Create Outstanding Customer Experiences With FRAYT

Many shippers struggle to build last mile programs that reinforce brand equity, drive repeat business, and support growth. At FRAYT, we serve as a strategic last mile partner to shippers of all sizes and across a wide range of industries, offering the platform, fleet, drivers, and presence in key markets that shippers need.

If you’re ready to delight customers with your last mile delivery, ship with us.

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