As consumer demands continue to evolve, your business needs a logistics strategy that’s flexible enough to meet them. Whether it’s sustainability, order-tracking visibility or faster fulfillment they’re looking for, adding the right crowdsourced delivery partner can help address all of these expectations and more. 

But before adding any new delivery partner to your ranks, it’s important to ensure they blend well with your existing operations, goals and values. After all, the drivers delivering customer orders in the last mile are an extension of your brand, and that last-mile logistics experience can make or break the customer experience. 

We’ve identified five main lines of questioning for your potential crowdsourced delivery partners, helping you drill down into topics such as brand loyalty, delivery flexibility and last mile logistics efficiency, with specific questions to ask in each category. 

How do I make sure my deliveries are matched with the right driver?

Crowdsourced delivery is all about meeting (and exceeding) your customers’ expectations while maximizing your efficiency as a business. In order to make good on the former, the ideal crowdsourcing solution will offer a wide range of vehicle types and flexible services that amplify the latter. 

Questions to ask:

1. What types of vehicles do the drivers use? Can you share a range for reference?
2. If I have multiple deliveries that go out at the same time, do I need to schedule multiple drivers or can I batch and route deliveries with similar drop-off locations or deadlines?
3. Can all drivers work with my pick-up deadline and cut-off time requirements?
4. Can drivers pick up and deliver same- or next-day from a variety of facility types, including retail stores, warehouses and distribution centers?

What visibility and order tracking do you offer?

More and more, consumers are demanding visibility into their online shopping orders. Research shows that as many as 68% want to know where their packages are at all times from order to delivery. Ask prospective crowdsourced delivery partners what type of order tracking they offer to both consumers and senders, and ask about their platform’s visibility features. 

Questions to ask: 

5. What type of customer and sender communications do you offer during the delivery process, and does that include real-time tracking (not just status updates)?
6. Does your platform provide photographic delivery confirmation?
7. What options do you offer for troublesome delivery attempts, and can drivers contact recipients directly to facilitate a delivery?

Can you fill gaps when demand spikes or a service area expands?

Peak season surges and unpredictable rush order requests are common reasons retailers call on crowdsourcing. You need a crowdsourced logistics solution that will scale with your business. Ask potential partners how they’ll work with (and for) you as your demand fluctuates or as your service area expands. 

Questions to ask:

8. Do you take action to increase the driver pool during the peak holiday retail season?
9. Can your driver pool accommodate a demand surge even if my peak season doesn’t fall during a traditional holiday shopping season?
10. What steps do you take to ensure drivers are available to take orders?
11. Does your platform let me send out regular on-demand orders, even if they’re not on a predetermined schedule?
12. If I expand my service area in the future, do your services extend to those new areas?

What product types and capacity can you manage?

Your goal is to maximize delivery flexibility in the last mile while minimizing the number of partnerships you need to maintain (i.e., you want to get the most bang for your logistical buck). Make sure your crowdsourced delivery solution can pair your orders with the right vehicle for the job and that drivers are equipped to move the kinds of materials you need them to. 

For example, a building supply company may need to deliver everything from nuts and bolts to 12-foot framing lumber — sometimes all in one vehicle but not always to the same jobsite. If that’s beyond your potential partner’s capabilities or such orders would incur additional fees, keep searching. Take special care to review the list of materials each partner is unable to accept for delivery. 

Questions to ask:

13. Do you have minimum or maximum order sizes senders must adhere to?
14. Can you ship non-palletized goods, including bulky or oddly shaped items?
15. What types of materials are on your prohibited list?
16. Do you charge extra for less-than-a-truckload deliveries?

Do you support returns or inventory repositioning?

Many large carriers specialize in one-way supply-chain fulfillment. But with the National Retail Federation expecting more than 20% of online purchases to be returned, you’ll need a versatile logistics partner to help you improve your merchandise return process as well.

The right logistics partner can create a better returns experience for your customers. For example, Roadie’s platform offers convenient time windows for delivery pickups, has delivery tracking built in, and is compatible with any return QR or barcode you provide. Not only does this expedite your returns process, but your customer has the satisfaction of one less item on their to-do list and the ability to trust your brand for future shopping needs. Ask potential crowdsource partners how their returns process works — or if they have one in place. 

Questions to ask:

17. Can your platform be used for reverse logistics, including customer returns and moving inventory between my business locations?
18. Can you use our existing barcoding system for returns?
19. Do your visibility and order tracking capabilities extend to returns?
20. Are you able to pick up and transport returns that aren’t prepackaged for shipping?

Deliver nearly any item, anytime, anywhere with Roadie

Whether you’ve built a business around delivering building materials or craft supplies, your customers count on you to fulfill their orders on their terms: when they want it, where they want it, delivered in full, and on time. By tapping into the over 200,000 drivers using Roadie’s platform, you can help you bolster your business while improving customer satisfaction with reliable, high quality and convenient delivery. When it’s time to add a crowdsourced delivery solution to your logistics strategy, asking the right questions will ensure you bring on a partner as interested in your success as you are. 

Ready to improve your last-mile logistics plan? Download our playbook to learn how to win and keep customers by offering efficient and affordable fulfillment with crowdsourced delivery.

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