Smartphone solutions have displaced dedicated scanners in the last in the last mile, according to new research from Scandit, in collaboration with ITTS.
It found that smartphone solutions are now a key part of the last mile technology toolkit for two-thirds (67%) of European postal and logistics providers. Respondents are also more likely to exclusively use smartphones (34%) than dedicated scanning devices (32%) as the primary device to support last mile operations.
The most frequently cited reasons for switching to a smartphone-based solution in Europe are adding new features and capabilities (50%) and lowering the total cost of ownership (44%).
Improving the user experience and efficiency was also a key motivation for 27% of respondents. 81% of those already deploying smartphones said they are satisfied. User-friendliness (22%), cost reduction (17%) and workflow performance (17%) are the most frequently cited primary benefits.
When asked their most significant investment priority, enhancing delivery apps (43%) was the most common response, followed by a focus on enabling more contactless processes (22%), and a further equal proportion who want to develop new apps with features such as age verified delivery and address changes.
The survey also revealed the biggest challenges of last mile delivery firms, including the perception of inefficiencies (55%), pressure on costs (50%), and the race to gain competitive advantage through new service offerings (45%).
With the increased move to online by consumers during the pandemic, 42% of companies said that they were under pressure to meet demand, which shows little sign of easing.
Pat Nolan, senior research analyst at VDC Research, who conducted part of the research on behalf of Scandit, said: “At the same time that transport and logistic operations’ top last mile challenges are reducing process inefficiencies and lowering costs, modern customer expectations demand a proliferation of supply chain touchpoints and workflows related to omnichannel fulfilment models and reverse logistics. The new labour and process complexities introduced by these operational dynamics exacerbate last mile challenges, making it especially important for decision-makers to invest in mobile technologies that will set them up for ongoing success in an evolving landscape.”
Samuel Mueller, CEO of Scandit, said: “Our research reveals a diverse range of challenges and priorities among last mile delivery organizations as they strive to meet customer expectations and maintain profitability post-COVID.”
“There is an emerging trend towards improving user experience through mobile computer vision enabled apps on smartphones that allow couriers to do multiple tasks from one device – from digitizing paper trails, ID verification and fast-tracking customer feedback to arranging doorstep refunds for unwanted goods.”