Providing High-Level Customer Service for Rural Customers, Too

Offering fast and affordable shipping is a challenge that retailers are continually struggling with. Competition is stiff in the online marketplace, and customers have high expectations when it comes the speed and affordability of product shipping. Difficulties are particularly pronounced for the rural customer. Those who live far from the well-trod shipping route are more difficult to service, but it’s important for retailers to find an affordable way to reach these shoppers, too.

Understand the Impact of the Last Mile

apparel shipping

The so-called “last mile” of your product’s shipping journey is the final leg from the customer’s nearest transportation hub to their home. Though this may account for just a small part of the journey, it makes up as much as 28 percent of the product’s transportation cost. That’s because there are fewer opportunities for bulk shipping discounts in that last mile. The closer you get to the customer, the more isolated the package. This is particularly true in rural areas, where you’re unlikely to see multiple shipments moving at one time.

Facing Last-Mile Issues

Last-mile issues can impact any shopper, but these are far more pronounced for those in rural communities. Some common problems that shippers run into include:

  • Lack of shipping facilities near rural communities.
  • Time and expense of making multiple deliveries when products require a signature and recipients aren’t home.
  • Excessively long delivery times for a small quantity of packages.

Reaching a rural customer takes more time, organization, and shipping expense than reaching someone in a large metropolitan area. However, that rural customer may be shopping online because of these same barriers. In a rural community, you’re less likely to have ready access to a diverse selection of stores and products. Jessie Qian, Head of Consumer Markets for KPMG in China, points out that, “The smartphone literally brings shops to rural consumers for the first time.”

Streamlining Rural Shipping Strategies

The larger a company, the better equipped it is to handle the challenges of rural shipping. Amazon offers free shipping for an impressively wide range of items, but it often does so at a loss. The company’s 2016 shipping costs totaled $7.2 billion , much of which was ultimately paid for with profits from its cloud computing services.

Smaller businesses need to adopt a different strategy. One way smaller companies can gain a competitive edge against behemoths like Amazon is by working with a 3PL company. These service providers can streamline shipping and fulfillment by managing your products alongside several other companies. This lets you combine your shipping with others to take advantage of subsidized rates. Though your small company may not see many orders from rural Montana in a week, the chances increase when you’re working within a larger framework. This can help reduce the costs of the last mile, both for your business and your customer.

If you’re looking for a 3PL provider to improve your services for rural customers, The Apparel Logistics Group can help. You can request a free consultation online to learn more about how our services can improve the last mile for you.

Posted: 2/1/2018 5:09:17 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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