Occasional home-chef Greg is cooking up a Sunday brunch for his family — baked mac and cheese, garlic bread, crispy bacon, and some roasted veggies on the side. Everyone at home is super-excited for the feast of the day.
But just when he starts the prep, Greg realizes some must-have ingredients are missing in the kitchen — mozzarella cheese, potatoes, broccoli, beans, olive oil, and seasoning herbs. He cannot quickly run to the nearby grocery store, because he has to complete a bunch of little tasks to set the foundation for his meal. He cannot be late as the kids are already hungry.
Only a genie can save the day now! Luckily, express grocery delivery is here to rescue Greg. He quickly opens a grocery delivery app, orders the items he needs, and hits the panic button — “Delivery within 30 mins”. In just about half an hour, a delivery partner is at the doorstep with a bag of groceries. Thanks to the super-fast delivery service, Greg and family could have a happy Sunday brunch.
Super-fast Fulfillment: The Future of Grocery and Hyperlocal Delivery
Many of us have been in Greg’s situation in the last year, and have turned to online shopping and delivery services for convenience. Whether it is groceries, food, fruits, meat, and veg or urgent medicines, the pandemic has normalized super express doorstep delivery within 30-45-60 minutes.
This on-demand delivery expectation is not just another pandemic trend. It is a rather permanent shift in consumer buying behavior, indicating that businesses in retail, grocery, food, and hyperlocal delivery will have to level up their last-mile game to fulfill super express delivery demands in the days to come.
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Innovative omnichannel models like the hub and spoke distribution, micro-fulfillment centers, dark stores, etc. are enabling fast and smooth last-mile operations for delivery businesses. For brick-and-mortar stores with limited delivery capabilities, third-party delivery apps and platforms such as Instacart, Shipt, and Fresh Direct are facilitating online selling and super-fast grocery deliveries.
Super express delivery is a growing trend across the globe, as local supermarkets to large-scale retailers and e-commerce giants have joined the league, offering 15-30 mins delivery of groceries and essentials.
Multinational hypermarket chain Walmart introduced Express Delivery for its customers amidst the pandemic, offering 160,000 items from Walmart’s food, consumables and general merchandise assortment such as groceries, everyday essentials, toys and electronics. Cincinnati-based supermarket retailer Kroger too offers a 30-minute grocery delivery to its customers under its Kroger Rush delivery service.
Indian food delivery platform, Swiggy also joined the quick grocery delivery race by launching Instamart to deliver groceries and daily essentials within 45 minutes. Another Indian hyperlocal delivery business keeping the 30-minute promise is Dunzo — a 24×7 delivery app that delivers anything to peoples’ doorstep in 30 minutes. The trend is picking pace in the Middle East too, where food delivery companies like Talabat are now offering 30-minute delivery of groceries at hypermarket prices across the region.
However, unlike regular e-commerce, on-demand delivery businesses work on a very tight timeline and have to keep the fulfillment promise regardless of any last-minute hiccups that may arise.
From the time an order is placed, every minute counts. Apart from racing against time, there are other things to consider — inventory availability, packaging, on-time resource allocation, delivery route schedules, traffic conditions, and so on.
So the big question is — how to enable successful 15-30 mins fulfillment to customers despite on-demand requests and delivery bottlenecks?
Let’s take the example of Dominos, the widely popular pizza restaurant chain. Dominos has been delivering pizzas within a guaranteed 30 minutes to customers for years now, much before the pandemic occurred, and much before 30-min delivery timelines became essential.
The restaurant uses AI, coupled with historical data and behavior analysis to predict order time and volumes, assign delivery executives, and plan routes to ensure speedy deliveries and unmatched customer delight.
On-demand supply chains have come to realize that technology is their best friend in enabling super express deliveries to customers during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Hyperlocal businesses, food delivery chains, grocery retailers, and third-party delivery platforms are now leveraging data science, machine learning, and AI in their logistics operations to achieve faster delivery SLAs and ensure smooth, seamless flow of goods throughout the supply chain.
How Does Logistics Tech Enable Successful 15-30 mins Last-Mile Deliveries?
Automated Dispatch Planning
Planning day-to-day order dispatches is a tedious and time-consuming process if done manually. While it may be effective for businesses that have a longer time span for shipment and deliveries, in an on-demand and hyperlocal set-up, this entire process needs to be fast and efficient. With the help of AI-enabled dispatching software, it is possible to automate daily, hourly and on-demand order dispatches within minutes, saving a lot of time and effort involved in the planning process otherwise.
Supply Chain Network Design Planning
Running a successful on-demand delivery business requires strategic supply chain network planning and placement of distribution hubs, warehouses and fulfillment centers in the right places to ensure seamless last-mile deliveries. Network design planning powered with AI and historical data analytics helps in planning an optimal number of warehouses, placing every supply chain node at the right point, and connecting these nodes with short and cost-effective routes.
Customer Address Verification and Validation
On-demand delivery businesses get hundreds of orders in a day. Successful 15-30 mins delivery is possible only if customer addresses can be mapped quickly and accurately for the field agents to execute deliveries. Otherwise, a lot of time could be wasted in looking for addresses and contacting customers. Geocoding and location intelligence tools enable logistics businesses to verify, validate and map customer addresses precisely on a virtual screen, ensuring speedy on-ground operations, and eliminating the chaos of locating addresses manually.
Delivery Route Optimization
Delivery route planning is a key element in the last mile of a supply chain. Manual routing is time-taking and not always accurate, especially when deliveries are to be done within a short span of 30mins. AI-enabled route planning software allows logistics managers to plan the shortest and most optimal on-demand delivery routes, considering real-world constraints such as traffic congestions, weather conditions, and time-slot preferences. Route optimization leads to fewer miles driven, thereby reducing the overall fuel cost and time taken in last-mile deliveries.
Intelligent Resource Allocation
As soon as an order is placed, the delivery business has to assign a suitable executive to fulfill the order. Businesses often face the challenge of timely availability of resources for super express deliveries. At the same time, there is also the problem of fair task allocation, which leads to overburdening of some agents and underutilization of some others. Smart resource allocation powered by historical data analytics and AI allows managers to allocate delivery tasks based on rider preferences such as work timings, service areas of choice, availability, and proximity to the end customer, and so on. It also helps in assigning duties keeping in mind the workload of every individual, thereby improving on-ground performance and work satisfaction of employees.
When a customer asks for a 30-min delivery, visibility is crucial, both for the customer and logistics managers. Customers want to know the whereabouts of their order as soon as it’s placed, and logistics managers want to keep a close eye on the delivery, to ensure SLAs are met in time. Last-mile visibility tools allow managers to monitor ongoing delivery tasks in real-time and take corrective measures in case of any issues. It also allows customers to track their orders, and be aware of who’s handling the order and whether it’s reaching them on time.
Delivering groceries, food, medicines, and fresh produce faster than a pizza is a trend that is shaping up the future of supermarkets and hyperlocal delivery businesses. Whether you’re operating offline or selling online, fulfilling the growing expectation of speedy delivery is an absolute necessity to stay ahead in the market. The right use of logistics tech in the last mile can streamline and optimize your delivery planning and execution, speeding up deliveries and improving customer experience significantly.
Now speed up your last-mile delivery with AI-enabled logistics tech from Locus. Get in touch with our experts for a quick tour of our solutions.