In 2022, the workforce followed a dizzying set of twists and turns — from the great resignation to quiet quitting to today’s flavor of rightsizing. Between volatile public markets, and insecurity about the future, it became evident that we are in an era of less. Fewer workers, fewer resources and less capital are available to do the same or greater workloads – whether it’s writing code, teaching our children, or getting products into customers’ hands.
As Head of Product for a company focused on last-mile delivery technology, I spend my days diving deeply into our customers’ last-mile operations. My work is to understand their businesses and build differentiated, easy-to-use delivery software solutions to optimize and accelerate them. In the course of every week, I focus on both the high-level strategic initiatives of global brands and the feet-on-the-street perspectives of delivery drivers. (Yep, I spend a lot of time riding around with delivery drivers in my neon yellow safety vest.)
From this vantage point, my year-in-review label for 2022 is that it was the ‘do-more-with-less’ year. Companies – both large and mid-sized – were and are faced with the daily challenges of getting products and parcels to customers on time and on schedule, all while grappling with fluctuating workforces, varying fuel costs, fickle product availability and shifting demand.
Worker shortages in particular are an omnipresent challenge for delivery operations that are facing up to 95% turnover every year. The issue is not traceable to a shortage of eligible drivers — the number of licensed drivers, CDL or not, in the US far outnumbers the number of delivery vehicles. The challenge is that – for a variety of reasons – it’s very difficult to recruit and retain drivers. It’s a challenging job that can be physically demanding with long hours. So how do you achieve your business and customer service goals in the face of those headwinds? With technology that has the power to optimize the way you use your resources, and that gives you access to the right information at the right time. But let’s focus on information for last-mile fleets and the challenges associated with it.
Some of the most essential information in last-mile operations resides in the heads of the drivers, rather than in the OMS or ERP. Yes, keeping customer data up-to-date is an ongoing burden, but there’s so much other information that has a profound effect on the way your drivers operate. Beyond the manifest and route plan, experienced drivers know the minute details of every stop on their routes. They know the loading dock passcodes, when local schools start and end, the time the loading dock is most likely to be clear or occupied, the person to connect with for a given delivery and so much more. That information is pure gold and often not captured in systems of record. So the issue is how to extract that information and get it into circulation so that it can be used more broadly to improve performance and to insulate the organization from staff turnovers, as well.
And that’s one of the things we do exceptionally well at Wise Systems. We focus on drivers and their experiences to make sure that they have a streamlined-yet-powerful set of tools to manage their deliveries successfully. We also create systems to accommodate and share the information that they gather in the field. The combination is a powerful one that increases driver satisfaction, employee engagement, and employee retention, and that helps the organization manage any employee turnover with less disruption.
I don’t have a crystal ball to know what 2023 has in store for the last-mile industry, but it’s highly likely that the need to do more with less isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon and the importance of drivers will continue to rise. The question is whether your organization is facing those challenges head on with the latest delivery solutions, or whether it’s time to consider upgrading your systems and technology to reap those benefits?
See how the Driver app from Wise Systems enables drivers to easily share information from the field for improved performance across your fleet.