Delivering the Final Mile: How your parcel arrives on time and on budget?
The world of e-commerce opens up endless possibilities to consumers and businesses alike. With just a few clicks, you can find and purchase products from all corners of the globe.
In this article, we uncover the fascinating journey of your online order through the global parcel delivery system by zooming in on the global shipping process and analyzing the factors influencing delivery times and shipping costs.
Package delivery from merchant
Have you ever wondered what happens after you click that enticing "Order" button? How does your package make its way from the merchant to your doorstep?
As soon as you have completed your online purchase, the machine is set in motion. First, the merchant prepares your package. This involves carefully packaging the items to ensure they are protected before being shipped. The merchant will typically also generate a shipping label containing key data such as the destination address, tracking number, and other relevant details to ensure that accurate information is provided to the transporter, as any inaccuracies can lead to delays or misdeliveries.
Next, the transporter picks up the packages from the merchant’s warehouse. This involves coordinating the pickup schedule and ensuring that the transporter is aware of the shipping manifest — a document listing the details of all the packages being handed over.
To ensure parcels are delivered on time, tight coordination and planning between the merchant and the transporter are essential. Many merchants have partnerships with shipping carriers or third-party logistics providers to help increase the reliability, cost-effectiveness, and delivery capabilities.
Some merchants also integrate their online stores with e-commerce platforms, or order management systems, to help them coordinate with the transporter and provide real-time access to shipping rates, label printing capabilities, and order tracking information.
Throughout the delivery process, the merchant and the transporter need to maintain open lines of communication to provide updates on package status, track the progress of the shipments and communicate any changes or delays.
"Global shipping is the backbone of the world economy, connecting nations, industries, and consumers in a vast network of trade. It is a testament to human ingenuity, logistics expertise, and the power of international collaboration."
-Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
Arrival at warehouse and customs preparation
Once your package has made its journey safely, it arrives at a distribution center, where a highly-organized process kicks into gear to ensure that incoming shipments are handled efficiently and delivery times are respected.
- Receiving and Unloading: Upon arrival, the packages are received at the distribution center's designated receiving area. Trained personnel carefully unload the shipments from trucks, containers, or other transport vehicles. Each package is checked against the shipping manifest to ensure accuracy.
- Sorting and Categorization: After unloading, the packages go through a sorting process based on destination, size, weight, and other relevant factors. Advanced technology, such as barcode scanners or automated sorting systems, are often used to streamline this process.
- Storage and Inventory Management: Once sorted, the packages are temporarily stored in designated areas within the distribution center. Distribution centers operated by the provider GEODIS, for example, have strategically organized racks, shelves, or storage systems to optimize space utilization. The packages are also assigned unique identifiers, allowing for precise inventory management and tracking throughout the facility.
- Order Fulfillment: As orders come in, the distribution center retrieves the relevant packages from storage. GEODIS has designed a sophisticated order picking system that uses handheld devices and automated robots to guide the warehouse staff, indicating the optimal path and location to gather the required items for each order, in order to maximize efficiency and minimize processing time.
- Quality Control and Packaging: Before the packages are dispatched for delivery, GEODIS conducts thorough quality control checks. This involves verifying the contents of each package, ensuring they are intact, properly labeled, and match the corresponding order. Additionally, the distribution center may provide value-added services, such as repackaging, labeling, or customization, as per client requirements.
- Outbound Logistics: Once the orders have been assembled and quality checked, the packages are prepared for outbound logistics. They are carefully loaded onto the appropriate vehicles, considering factors like destination, delivery schedule, and transportation mode. GEODIS leverages its extensive transportation network to optimize routing and select the most suitable carriers for efficient and timely delivery.
Customs clearance & international fulfillment
To maintain the flow of international trade and enable customers to receive their orders promptly and in compliance with all applicable regulations, key information about packages needs to be collected and communicated to the relevant authorities. This process is also known as ‘customs clearance’.
The first stage of customs clearance consists of collecting information. When preparing for international shipments, the logistics provider or merchant collects essential information regarding the package and its contents. This includes details such as product descriptions, quantities, values, origin, and destination addresses. Additionally, supporting documentation, such as commercial invoices, packing lists, and certificates of origin, may also be required.
Next, this information is transmitted to customs agencies using electronic systems or platforms, such as customs portals or electronic data interchanges (EDIs). These agencies assess each package and determine its compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and trade policies. Typically, they look at factors such as product classification, valuation, origin, and any applicable duties, taxes, or trade restrictions. Customs clearance may involve physical inspections, but in many cases, the process is streamlined using digital tools and risk-based assessments.
In some cases, logistics providers may engage customs brokerage services. These specialized professionals have in-depth knowledge of customs procedures, regulations, and documentation requirements. In essence, they act as intermediaries between the shipper and the customs authorities.
To make the customer journey as hassle-free as possible, many merchants and logistic providers apply DDP, or Delivery Duty Paid, to signify they are responsible for all costs, including duties and taxes, associated with delivering the package to the buyer's specified location. When DDP is applied, the logistics provider pays the necessary duties and taxes on behalf of the buyer as well as ensuring total compliance. Most products you order online have DDP, which means you rarely have to worry about additional fees or clearance procedures when ordering.
Regional and final mile carriers
Regional and final mile carriers are logistics companies that specialize in the transportation and delivery of packages within a specific geographic region, typically focusing on the last leg of the delivery process. They specialize in offering shorter delivery times and express mail options — including overnight shipping, meaning parcels are delivered within one business day.
By capitalizing on their locality, embracing flexibility, and operating on 24-hour schedules, regional and final mile carriers are able to meet the unique demands of last-mile delivery. Here are the three unique benefits of working with regional and final mile carriers:
- Locality: Regional and final mile carriers have a deep understanding of the geography, traffic patterns, and delivery nuances specific to their region. This allows them to navigate efficiently, choose optimal routes, and deliver packages promptly. Their local presence also enables them to quickly adapt to any unforeseen circumstances or changes in delivery requirements.
- Flexibility: These carriers excel at handling diverse delivery needs for a wide range of package sizes, from small parcels to bulky items. Moreover, they often offer flexible delivery options, such as time windows or special instructions for drop-offs, which enhances customer satisfaction.
- 24-Hour Schedules: Many regional and final mile carriers operate on 24-hour schedules, providing round-the-clock delivery services. That way, they are able to accommodate time-sensitive deliveries, including urgent orders, perishable goods, or time-critical shipments. More generally, 24-hour schedules are a reality of today's fast-paced world, where customers expect fast and round-the-clock deliveries.
Your package has arrived
Wrapping up, thanks to the advanced technology and human expertise applied at each stage of the international shipping process, your package can be delivered to your doorstep in a timely fashion.
After a seamless online shopping experience, your merchant prepares your package before it enters into a complex logistics network, utilizing various transportation modes, and involving constant tracking and communication, before it reaches a distribution center. From there, customs clearance and international fulfillment is initiated. Last but not least, regional and final mile carriers ensure the package is delivered swiftly.
GEODIS MyParcel: the GEODIS experience
GEODIS MyParcel encompasses all the features and capabilities described above, making it a reliable choice for your shipping needs. With a strong focus on seamless logistics, GEODIS MyParcel offers a comprehensive range of services, including efficient order fulfillment, streamlined customs clearance, and reliable last-mile delivery.
Whether you're selling products online or managing a business that requires international shipping, GEODIS MyParcel is equipped to handle it all. We are committed to providing exceptional service, ensuring your packages reach their destination with ease and efficiency. We would be delighted to be your shipping partner, supporting your business growth and delivering a top-notch customer experience.
Eric's new position leverages his international parcel experience with the Geodis MyParcel Services team. Eric is passionate about helping customers leverage the full power of Geodis and putting the client and their customer's experience first. Eric and his team of International and Solutions Professionals bring a consultative approach to your supply chain. Eric is responsible for leading worldwide supply chain management and business development activities for large multinational clients.