While one tends to think of a shipment as a single transaction, in reality it usually consists of multiple events—first mile, line-haul, final mile and consolidation points.  These pieces get even more complex when the item being shipped is a couch or a table that’s traveling in a model other than parcel. For the buyer, the final mile is the most important part of the trip, and the piece they are most likely to associate with your brand. After all, this is what gets the shipment to his or her home.

The final mile can take place in several different ways. Maybe the local USPS driver transports a parcel from the post office to the mailbox or building lobby, or a local delivery driver takes a skid from a nearby terminal to the curb. And when it comes to larger goods, such as furniture, this means delivery to the inside of the home. In today’s post we’re going to focus on that particular task, and dive into final mile delivery options specifically for home furnishings.

Picture it—your customer is going through her inbox one evening and sees an email from you, her favorite online retailer. Upon opening it she discovers the perfect sofa for her living room and hits “buy.” Should she expect the local mailman to drop this off? What in the world would she do if the UPS driver left her new sofa sitting by the curb while she was away at work?

As a home furnishings retailer, this scenario presents both a special challenge (delivery into the home) and a unique opportunity (creating a truly memorable brand experience). There are a variety of service levels and carriers suited to this particular task. Many times all of these options are categorized under the mantra “White Glove”, however they can broken down into the following sub-categories:

  • The most basic is threshold or over the threshold delivery. If coming from a final mile agent, this includes delivery to the “first dry area” of the home at a prearranged time. This is typically the garage, front porch or backyard if easily accessible.
  • The next is room of choice delivery. This option, as detailed in the name, gets the item placed in the room of choice in the buyer’s home. Typically the base charge does not include stairs. There is no unpacking of the item or assembly, but agents deliver at a pre-appointed time.
  • Next is what is traditionally thought of as white glove delivery. White glove deliveries go to the room of choice, include unpacking of the item, and debris removal from the packaging. Depending on the request of the carrier or shipper, there may be assembly if necessary. White Glove deliveries are also made by appointment
  • The premium package is called deluxing. For a deluxed shipment the final mile agent actually unpacks, inspects and assembles the shipment at their own facility. They then schedule a delivery appointment, blanket wrap the item, and deliver the assembled piece to the room of choice. This is a great service for retailers because it allows the agents to inspect the item before the final consignee. At this point they are able to alert the seller of any manufacturer defects, repair any blemishes and ensure they have all the required tools for assembly.

Now let’s play things out for the sofa scenario above with the information we have available to us. It likely starts somewhere across the country in the warehouse of a manufacturer or a distribution center. From there it is picked up by the first mile carrier and dropped right into the line-haul infrastructure. It goes through several different hubs before it is delivered to the dock of a local final mile delivery agent.

These final mile agents are experts at delivering furniture. Days before the freight is scheduled to arrive they have a dispatcher call your customer and share the delivery window during which she can expect the sofa. Typically, she would be alerted the day before the delivery and then she will receive a call the day of when the carrier is 30-60 minutes out. When the carrier arrives they will then deliver the sofa into the customer’s home, with further services dependent upon the option she chose at checkout.

It takes a special breed of carrier to facilitate these final mile deliveries. As a direct point of contact with the customer, these agents represent the brand who sold the items and are a great way to leave a lasting impression. Thus, having a final mile solution in place is critical to the success of any eCommerce business, and offering a variety of final mile services ensures that your customer can choose the best option for their unique situation.

This is where ShipHawk comes in. We have a network of final mile carriers who are best in breed. Please reach out today to schedule a time to talk with our team and find a solution that works for you and your business. We would be happy to help.