These Five Last-Mile Problems Are Caused by First-Mile Inefficiencies

In these days, eCommerce drives heightened customer delivery expectations, with the new pace set by the behemoth Amazon. So there has been a huge amount of investment in getting products to their final destinations, pronto. That’s all well and good, because if you’re not keeping your customers completely happy, including how fast they get their stuff, there’s a pretty good chance somebody else will.

You’ve already made a significant investment with NetSuite, which will help streamline your supply chain from one end to the other. But it doesn’t quite solve all the problems that can lead to last-mile problems.

Oftentimes, to execute the last mile, the correct place to invest is in the first mile.

Here are five areas we’ve seen where first-mile inefficiencies are the cause of last-mile problems:

Lack of real-time visibility and uncertainty during shipping

Those customer demands for fast delivery mean that nowadays, you absolutely must be able to know, right now, where everything is throughout your supply chain. Yet one of the biggest gaps in that knowledge chain we’ve seen is the communication with suppliers on critical purchase order information.

Poor or nonexistent supplier technology means you don’t have that first-mile transparency that’s critical to keeping your customers happy and setting proper expectations. Those that don’t have the necessary technology simply don’t have the tracking and communication abilities you need to be successful. 

NetSuite gives you tremendous tools for internal processes, but by itself it won’t help with those crucial supplier relationships. SourceDay’s collaboration solution not only gives you dashboards with complete visibility for what you have going on, but it also allows you to push those capabilities out to your suppliers, so you’re able to see in real time where every item you need is so you can keep your customers happy and informed.


Your ability to deliver to your customers in the last mile is contingent on getting what you need from your suppliers when you need it: the first mile. If you don’t, that’s when you face delays in your own deliveries, and those can result in very unhappy customers.

Let’s face it, the clock starts ticking on your ability to deliver on time to your customers even before you’ve placed orders with your suppliers.

Our tailored solutions begin with our RFQ Collaboration solution, which streamlines getting quotes and selecting the right suppliers for your needs, so when that clock starts ticking, you’re making the best use of your time and resources possible, and not suffering delays on the front end that snowball into disasters for your final deliveries.

PO management problems, though, are where the biggest minefields lie. Old-school methods of manual processes, lots of undocumented communication, and lack of transparency into what’s been agreed to such as prices, quantities, and timing can put you behind on your own deliveries right from the very start. So having optimized and automated PO processes with complete visibility throughout is critical. Without those capabilities, you’ll have no confidence from your suppliers in what quantities are available to ship and when they’re able to ship.

Our PO Collaboration solutions leverage the power of NetSuite and add dashboards, automated processes, and streamlined communications that keep you and your suppliers on the same page.

Poorly optimized delivery routing

Another result of delays caused by poor communication and collaboration with your suppliers is that delivery routing isn’t optimized. Whether you have suppliers shipping items to you, or finished product to customers, routing is critical. When you have the right technology giving you complete visibility into your supply lines, you have the time and bandwidth to make sure your delivery routing is giving you the best possible delivery timing at the best possible price.

When you don’t, things don’t get where you want them when you want them there. That can be a fatal miss in today’s business environment.

High cost of delivery

The other major impact of delays is an increase to your shipping costs. When things fall behind, but you have a must-meet arrival time, the only way to make up lost ground is to pay more than you’d planned for shipping.

That costs you dearly on your margins in the short term. In the long term, it can drive bad behaviors to get the high delivery costs back down, like carrying excess safety stock inventory. This increases your inventory carrying costs and drives up your annual expenses. It’s a vicious circle.

Having the right supplier management tools in place, and building the right kinds of transparent and collaborative relationships with them, can help you avoid all that pain.

Poor delivery agility

A final effect of first-mile problems on your last-mile capabilities is in serving your customers’ needs for flexibility. You’re not the only one who sometimes might need something faster, or in different quantities, than what you originally specified. Your customers oftentimes will too, especially these days.

When your customer asks you to expedite things, or make other changes to their orders, you need to have a closed loop with your suppliers to make that happen. Because it’s one thing to request that change, but a whole other thing to have it confirmed and documented in a closed loop and updated back into your ERP. Our automated collaboration solution allows you to see everything in one place, and to have confidence that any required changes have been agreed to and confirmed by your suppliers.

Today’s customer expectations have made succeeding at your business all the more challenging. To alleviate those last-mile problems that can make your customers unhappy, it makes great sense to invest in first-mile solutions that make trouble-free and mutually supportive relationships with your suppliers a breeze.

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