Most people already know that postal operators like the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS cover a lot of physical territory. However, a less widely-known fact is that they also collect a vast amount of data. This type of delivery data, combined with mobile technology, holds potential benefits for businesses across all industries.
The Postal Service and Big Data
The Postal Service utilizes an advanced supercomputer and a real-time, in-memory database to scan and process 504.6 million pieces of mail every day.
When the supercomputer processes each piece of mail, it also analyzes address data by comparing it against the billions of records in the database. Then, the system passes routing instructions to the delivery facility. The Postal Service wants to further enhance these routing instructions and use the latest handheld GPS technology to speed up deliveries by avoiding traffic and weather issues.
Technological Advances and Direct Delivery Services
Other companies are already utilizing big data capabilities to provide new efficiencies in direct delivery services. To the delight of many consumers, Amazon continues to expand its same-day deliveries.
It is also testing more cutting-edge technology like delivery drones and anticipatory shipping algorithms that predict future purchases.
Just as in other industries, though, the rise of big data and mobile technology has also meant the rise of disruptors in the shipping and delivery sector. One of these is UberRUSH, a delivery service designed to save retailers time and money by using the same business model as the Uber rideshare service.
Additionally, grocery delivery services are not new, but big data and mobile technology have made this a more convenient, affordable and scalable business. On platforms such as Shipt, consumers can easily place a shopping order online and have the groceries delivered directly to their door in less than one hour.
Big Data Analysis for Business Deliveries
How can businesses leverage the power of big data to improve their delivery operations? There are a variety of ways in which new technologies can help solve the persistent last-mile delivery problem.
Big data analysis has two components — data gathering and analysis. While most enterprises already gather data about their customers and processes, data gathering must adapt to the modern marketplace by tracking processes in real time.
By tracking deliveries thoroughly, the resulting data analysis will identify pain points, costs, and failures, as well as suggestions for process improvements.
In addition to analyzing the delivery process itself, businesses can analyze customer-specific data to create personalized services and build loyalty. Managing customer relationships around deliveries is critical since 90% of dissatisfied customers report that they would not continue to do business with a company that failed to meet their expectations.
As Amazon is currently exploring, customer-specific data can also give companies the ability to predict what the customer will need in the future. This opens further possibilities for logistical planning and efficiency.
Putting Big Data Into Action
Companies can use a Direct Store Delivery system (also called a DSD system) to leverage big data analytics in their daily operations.
DSD systems can also push inventory updates, route updates and allow warehouses and drivers to communicate instantly via mobile devices. Essentially, this software integrates the existing business data with its own metrics, managing the delivery process and improving its efficiency.
What It All Means for Businesses
The drive to improve processes, as well as the evolving capabilities of big data and mobile technology, will continue to create changes in the delivery service model.
Businesses must adapt their delivery platforms to these changes to stay competitive in the marketplace. Big data analytics has proven successful in empowering companies to enhance the customer experience in the digital age.