How to Avoid Last-Mile Delivery Challenges on Black Friday

If you’ve planned out a compelling Black Friday ecommerce strategy, you can look forward to a bustling holiday period with plenty of sales.

The downside of all that extra activity? It can put a strain on your last-mile delivery process. If you aren’t prepared, delivery challenges can quickly turn you into a victim of your own success.

Black Friday is a crucial opportunity to build lasting relationships with your customers. And, with studies increasingly showing that customers expect fast shipping options, this is one area of operations you can’t afford to ignore.

In fact, research by McKinsey & Company has shown that nearly half of customers abandon their shopping carts if delivery times are too slow or not mentioned.

With a bit of planning, you can kick off the holiday season with confidence. Guarantee next- or even same-day delivery, win your customers’ trust with clear and accurate communication, and make them excited to shop with you again.

The last-mile labyrinth: Common Black Friday delivery challenges

Even large retailers and couriers face challenges with last-mile delivery during busy holiday periods. 

  • Increased demand – The surge in orders during Black Friday can lead to a dramatic increase in delivery requests, potentially overwhelming your existing delivery infrastructure.

  • Guaranteeing timely deliveries – Meeting delivery deadlines becomes more critical during Black Friday sales. Customers expect fast service, and delivery delays can lead to dissatisfaction.

  • Customer communication – Black Friday shoppers may have high expectations for communication and transparency. They expect frequent and accurate updates about the status of their order.

  • Resource allocation – Planning resources efficiently is a challenge during Black Friday. You’ll need to figure out the ideal balance of drivers, vehicles, and dispatch staff, and ensure drivers are ready for a heavy workload.

Forecast your success

Forecasting demand well in advance of a shopping holiday is a crucial part of supply chain management. It will help ensure you have the right products in stock – but it should also inform your last-mile delivery preparations.

If you’ve already forecasted demand for the sake of inventory planning, you might have covered some of the topics below. Now’s the time to apply your insights to your last-mile delivery logistics.

  • Historical data – Examine data from previous Black Friday events and similar peak periods. Look at order volumes, delivery times, and any challenges that emerged. This historical data can serve as a baseline for predicting this year’s demand.

  • Market trends – Stay informed about current market trends, especially in your industry. Are there any new products or categories that have gained popularity? Are there external factors, like economic conditions or new competitors, that might influence demand?

  • Customer analysis – Utilize data analytics to understand your customers’ behavior. What percentage choose last-mile delivery at checkout? Do they tend to shop early or late in the day? Are there specific geographic areas that generate higher demand?

Map with pins showing customer locations
  • Promotion impact – Consider the impact of your own promotions and marketing campaigns. If you plan to run special offers or discounts during the holiday season, they could generate an increase in demand. This could put additional strain on your last-mile delivery operations.

  • Local factors – Take into account any local factors that could affect last-mile delivery, such as road construction, events, or weather trends for the specific days of high demand.

Giving thought to these areas will help you make more accurate demand forecasts and fine-tune your last-mile delivery operations.

Check in with your team

Now that you have an idea of what’s needed, take stock of your available human and material resources – including your dispatchers, drivers, and vehicles.

Are your dispatchers trained and equipped to handle peak-period last mile delivery logistics? How easily can they track and communicate with drivers, warehousing staff, and customers?

Do your drivers understand the increased intensity and time commitment the holiday period will involve? Make sure to get their feedback on the last-mile delivery process.

What is a minor inconvenience during the regular season could be amplified during the holiday period, leading to inefficiency or reduced job satisfaction.

Finally, examine your delivery fleet. If any of your vehicles need a tune-up, now would be a good time to ensure all parts are in reliable working order.

Make the most of your resources

Before you go out and hire more resources to step up your last-mile delivery operations, think about whether you could get more out of what you have.

With so many moving pieces, last-mile delivery is often plagued by inefficiencies. Investing in a robust but easy-to-learn fleet management solution can help you streamline your operations and feel in control, even during busier periods.

A platform like CanFleet can help you with several important aspects of fleet management:

  • Dispatch – Speed up dispatch by letting an AI-powered system convert new orders to delivery tasks, then auto-assign each task to the best-positioned driver. This frees up your human dispatchers to focus on monitoring and optimization.

  • Route optimization – Use advanced algorithms to automatically optimize delivery routes, saving time and fuel costs. By efficiently planning routes, you can reduce the number of required drivers and vehicles, making the most of your current resources.

    Here’s an example of route optimization in CanFleet. The system AI accounts for the customer’s order date/time and preferred delivery window (if selected) along with driving time when putting tasks in the most efficient order.

Route optimization in CanFleet
  • Real-time tracking – Fleet management platforms offer real-time tracking and visibility into your delivery operations. This not only keeps you informed but also enhances accountability among your drivers, promoting better on-time performance.

  • Communication and customer updates – These systems enable automatic communication between your drivers and customers. Automated notifications, such as delivery ETAs, enhance customer satisfaction, and reduce the need for additional customer support staff.

  • Data analytics – Fleet management software collects data that can be analyzed to identify areas for improvement in your last-mile delivery process. This data-driven approach can help you reduce costs and allocate resources more effectively.

Are you ready for the last mile?

More than half of retailers now offer same-day delivery. Don’t let concerns about busy periods like Black Friday keep you from joining their ranks.

With a bit of preparation, you can avoid last-mile delivery challenges and use the Black Friday frenzy to generate momentum for your brand.

A proactive approach includes forecasting demand, bolstering your team, and optimizing your resources. If you cover the bases, you’ll minimize the risk of delays, enhance customer satisfaction, and position your business to seize the full potential of the shopping season.

Start delivering more for less with CanFleet. We’re offering 100 free delivery tasks to help you keep up with the holiday rush.