We had an issue last week, complicated by the Easter weekend opening hours but never the less an issue

Out on deliveries on one of our last mile style routes, whereby a rider has 50-100 parcels to delivery a day, was an item in a new postcode area for us. This style of delivery we have roughly 6 minutes per parcel to deliver. It doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to be a hero but we do our best.

The rider came onto this particular delivery and came to the right road, now we have routing software based on postcodes. It helps riders who are new to areas but it isn’t perfect, it’s more giving guidelines on roughly where it is.

The rider found 2-3 of the neighbouring flats but couldn’t find the specific address, even after extensively looking so recorded it and moved onto the next parcel.

We tried again the following day and where armed with the phone number to call the person this time. Unfortunately we still couldn’t deliver, a second courier, who is known for his determination not to come back with any parcels, still couldn’t find the address and the customer didn’t respond to the call until 30 minutes later, meaning we where well out of the 6 minutes to go back and return.

This is stressful for us to deal with and equally stressful for the customer who has ordered the parcel. For us we have to look at the financials and stick to them with this type of delivery. As much as we want to turn around and return or spend more time finding the address, if we do, we may not be able to pay staff at the end of the month as its costly for us to deviate from our extremely efficient routes. Equally customers don’t see this aspect, they have ordered a parcel and expect it on time, they consider us to of failed on this, which is perfectly understandable.

So how do we solve this in future? and better manage it?

You could say “try harder to find the address” – Generally we do find the address first time with no hassle, or after a few weeks of learning the area we get better, our riders know the areas like the back of there hands after a few months, think the knowledge that black cab drivers do in london but one in a hundred will be more difficult, maybe a new build, maybe the postcode is shared between a whole road or a university backs onto 4 different roads and you don’t know where the entrance is?. It isn’t easy at all.

I’d say “give the customer an hour/two hour window” to receive the parcel. This is something we are working on, at present customers do have our depot number and we can give rough estimates, our riders have gps onboard so we can give an ad hoc eta but it takes up our time to respond to individual cases so we are looking to automate this. It means customers can fit it around there day and if we dont show up in that time period they can get in touch in a timely fashion vs waiting all day or contacting the day after. Although we will be very limited to change this time window last minute, it is possible in some cases. In the sense of solving address problems, if there in/at the phone it can be solved easily. As an example one customer was praising our service as he timed his lunch break around receiving the parcel and thanked us for the messages and eta.

Another aspect is improved software for routing or to use something else other than postcodes. I believe postcodes are a legacy system that haven’t kept up with the e commerce rise but i haven’t seen anything that can do postcodes better, there is some people trying to do just that though. what three words. They have mapped the world in 3m by 3m squares according to there website, each one has 3 words as the equivalent postcode. I don’t know if there system is applicable to what we do but we have emailed them to find out.

This gives us a number of projects to work on in the meantime to truly nail us home as last mile specialists. i’ll be out tomorrow cycling the parcel up to the original person from our story, personally, myself to make sure it gets there and apologise. We look after each person in our postcode areas and if we are seen to make a mistake, i still believe you should do as much as you can to make it right.