The middle mile is one of the most overlooked steps in the delivery and fulfillment process. Most shippers recognize last mile’s influence on customer experiences and satisfaction, but it’s the middle mile infrastructure that helps shape the entire door-to-door process.
At its core, middle mile delivery is all about the seamless transportation of goods, typically on pallets, from one facility to another. It is the connective tissue that links manufacturing plants, packaging centers, and warehouses to retail stores or distribution centers. While the middle does not connect end customers with their products, it does play an essential role in orchestrating the timely delivery of those products.
The importance of the middle mile only grows as high-volume periods (like the holiday season) approach. This November through January, Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast predicts an increase in sales between 3.5% and 4.6%. As you prepare for the holiday season, and as you seek to master the middle mile to streamline deliveries year-round, let’s explore the factors that are influencing today’s middle mile.
In transportation execution, On-Time In Full (OTIF) rates stand as the bedrock of success. The supply chain landscape has experienced significant disruptions in recent years, and some shippers have opted for expedited routes in the final mile to meet customer expectations better. While expedited deliveries may seem like an obvious solution, they often represent an unnecessary and costly burden. Optimizing middle mile infrastructure is The real key to consistently high OTIF rates.
By harnessing the power of a meticulously curated carrier network to move freight from one warehouse to another seamlessly, we can elevate OTIF rates to new heights. This enhances customer satisfaction and minimizes the financial toll of damaged, incomplete, or delayed orders. In the sections below, we’ll explore the five critical factors that are pivotal in shaping the success of middle mile delivery and, consequently, your supply chain’s overall performance.
Modern supply chains require significant capacity. Those aspiring to become carriers often succeed by specializing in a specific niche. While some shippers contract with these specialized carriers directly, others thrive by collaborating with third-party logistics providers (3PLs) with extensive industry connections.
By partnering with 3PLs, shippers can optimize their transportation and logistics capacities, balancing what they’re capable of in-house with what they need from third-party partners. As a shipper, when you select the right 3PL, you immediately gain access to a broad spectrum of consolidation techniques and warehouses, effectively circumventing internal limitations and enhancing the agility of your logistics operation.
The e-commerce revolution has ushered in a surge of micro-fulfillment centers strategically positioned to reduce delivery times and maximize operational efficiency. As e-commerce continues its ascent, encompassing an ever-larger share of total retail sales, optimizing middle mile delivery becomes paramount for industries from fresh produce to household goods. Developing a robust middle mile infrastructure empowers shippers to move their products more efficiently, meeting the evolving demands of the online shopping era.
Certain companies and service providers distinguish themselves in a landscape where visibility is king by offering optimized shipment tracking solutions. Real-time visibility during middle mile deliveries translates into an enhanced customer experience for both direct-to-consumer (DTC) and retail purchases, ensuring that deliveries arrive precisely when and where they are expected.
The diversity of carriers used by shippers can often complicate data collection processes. Even those shippers who exclusively operate in the digital realm may struggle to convert incoming data into actionable insights.
By tapping into centralized middle mile technology, retailers and shipping companies can discover innovative solutions that streamline their supply chain operations, resulting in smarter and more data-driven decision-making.
Customer success is the cornerstone of a successful partnership. Build your in-house capacity to deliver excellent customer service as needed, but be sure that any delivery partners you take on can also provide customer service that matches your standards.
When you provide outstanding service, you build trust and loyalty among your customer base, increasing repeat purchases and reducing churn. Don’t risk that trust and loyalty by taking on partners that can’t match your customer service standard.
As the complexity of middle mile operations continues to rise, the right industry partner can bring value to your operations and open up new opportunities to grow your business. At FRAYT, we serve as a middle mile delivery partner to shippers across the nation, offering services and benefits that include:
If you’re looking for a middle mile partner that streamlines your supply chain, ship with us.