We bet you’ve spent at least a little time thinking about ways to improve your last-mile logistics. Whether that means moving items faster, more affordably, to new markets, or all the above, many retailers are eager to streamline the most expensive and complex step in the fulfillment journey. But they don’t want to sacrifice the customer experience in the process.

Knowing what’s driving the pursuit of a faster last mile can help you pick the right fulfillment solution for the job. Customer expectations for faster delivery — whether same day, on-demand or next day — are growing, along with e-commerce sales. In response, many businesses are looking to crowdsourced delivery for the scalability and flexibility needed to move more volume faster.

Crowdsourcing is an always-on last-mile fulfillment option that lets you respond to demand when it happens. And you can deliver inventory from wherever it’s located in your network, be it a warehouse, distribution center or retail store. 

Are you ready to consider crowdsourcing? Here are five questions to ask yourself to decide if crowdsourcing could solve your final-mile delivery challenges. 

1. Are customers getting orders when they want them?

We know shoppers want their online orders fast, but it’s hard to predict which customers will have which items sent the same-day. That makes meeting demand for fast fulfillment one of retailers’ biggest challenges. Crowdsourcing can help your business offer customers more options for when and how to receive their orders, including same- or next-day delivery. That can be especially helpful if your existing delivery strategy makes fulfilling last-minute orders or scaling with demand difficult. Give shoppers choices, and you’re more likely to see their carts fill up again and again.

2. How efficient is my last mile?

The last mile is often the most expensive step in the fulfillment journey, and it’s where problems are most likely to arise. Multiple stops along traditional carriers’ routes, long distances between deliveries in rural areas and dense city traffic are among the many causes of time-consuming bottlenecks. And those potential delays make ultrafast delivery far from a guarantee. 

A crowdsourced delivery platform can eliminate these hang-ups because it relies on a pool of independent drivers already in your area, enabling you to scale your use up or down based on the demand you need to fulfill. More than 200,000 drivers nationwide use Roadie, with a wide variety of passenger vehicles ready to meet variable demand for all order types and sizes, including bulky, heavy and oversized items. 

Even if you have a fleet, crowdsourced drivers can fill the gaps in capacity so your team can be fulfilling at full steam 100% of the time. (Think unexpected order spikes and peak season overflow.)

3. Do I (and my customers) have visibility into my final mile?

Fast delivery isn’t the only feature shoppers look for when making a purchase. They also want greater visibility into their order’s progress from click to delivery. (Like how you might watch the dinner you ordered through a delivery marketplace travel from the restaurant to your door.)

Crowdsourced delivery platforms have that kind of visibility baked right in. Roadie’s platform offers real-time tracking features and a photographic chain of custody. That means you and your customers will know where orders are at every stage of the delivery journey and can make sure they arrive safely (or know right away in the rare case of a missed delivery). 

4. How do we want to grow our fleet?

Fleet management is the sum of many tasks: keeping vehicles in working order, hiring and paying drivers, shelling out for fuel, staying on top of paperwork, and growing your team and infrastructure to keep up with new business. 

And while working with traditional carriers has many upsides, they aren’t often able to pick up last-minute orders, efficiently ship oversized or bulky items, or be ready with extra space in the event ordering heats up. 

That’s why many companies are adding crowdsourced delivery to their roster of last-mile fulfillment solutions. By tapping into a national network of independent drivers who use their own vehicles and are paid per delivery, you can reduce (or eliminate) the cost of maintaining your own fleet and you’re not restricted by traditional carriers’ schedules or fees.

The result: lower delivery expenses and fewer headaches from managing last-mile logistics.

5. What value does crowdsourcing add?

Adding crowdsourced delivery to your fulfillment toolkit comes with many benefits. Here’s what you should expect from a partner:   

  • Flexibility. Your logistics partner should be able to handle items of all shapes and sizes in a way that’s cost-effective for your business. And they should enable delivery to your customers anytime, anywhere.  
  • Convenience. From ultrafast delivery to real-time tracking, your shoppers want a higher level of service. Working with crowdsourcing platforms like Roadie ensures your customers have a choice in when, where and how they get their orders — and know when to expect them.
  • Scalability. Roadie lets you tap into passenger vehicles already on the road. The same-day delivery they provide enables businesses to scale last-mile delivery capacity in real-time as volume flexes up and down. 
  • Speed. Consumers want instant gratification from their online deliveries. Same-day or next-day delivery is a must for retailers today, and crowdsourcing can help you get there. 

The right delivery partner for that crucial final mile should enable your business to make good on each of these promises, no matter the order. Check out our playbook to learn more about how crowdsourcing with Roadie can help you bring flexibility, convenience, scalability and speed to your last mile.

How crowdsourced delivery can help businesses win and keep customers in the last mile