The time between clicking the buy button and receiving a package at the door is always narrowing. Today, people are expecting their packages to arrive within a few days — or sooner. The recent boom of customer demand has created the need for companies to find innovative ways to quickly get packages where they’re supposed to go.
One critical aspect of the process is last-mile delivery. As a central cog in the supply chain, last-mile delivery is swiftly becoming one of the major focuses of supply chain managers. In this article, we’ll look at what last-mile delivery is, how it works, what its challenges are and more.
What Is Last-Mile Delivery?
The shipping and delivery process consists of a series of intricate parts. First-mile delivery is when a product is first introduced into the supply chain. From there, it goes on a journey, trading hands and getting closer to the customer.
Last-mile delivery is the final step in the shipping process. It includes the time from when a package arrives at a warehouse near the customer’s location to when it’s delivered to their doorstep. Though this might seem simple, it’s actually one of the most challenging and complex parts of the delivery journey.
How Does Last-Mile Delivery Work?
A customer will shop on a company’s site, find the product they want, choose an adequate shipping option and press buy. From there, the company fulfills the order, and the product takes off through the shipping journey, eventually getting to the final leg — last-mile delivery. Here is where things get interesting — companies typically have to hire an independent business to be their last-mile carrier. Because of this, many factors fall out of the main company’s hands.
If you’ve ever ordered a package and seen the “out for delivery” update pop up and stay there for a while, you’ve likely felt the challenges of last-mile delivery. Although you would think that your location’s proximity to the local warehouse would make the delivery process quick and easy, many additional factors are in play.
What Are the Challenges of Last-Mile Delivery?
The reason last-mile delivery is such a focus of the supply chain is that it holds some of the greatest challenges. From location to route design, companies have to consider many factors while planning for last-mile delivery.
Delivery location is one of the most important aspects of last-mile delivery. Rural areas have greater distances between delivery locations, and companies may have to cover vast distances just to deliver a few packages.
With cities, locations are close together, but traffic will inevitably slow the process down. A challenge will likely present itself in every location, emphasizing the need for advanced technology and thorough planning to increase efficiency and prepare for those challenges.
The company’s size will also present unique challenges. With big companies taking in tremendous order volumes each day, they’ll have to juggle routes and orders to get packages to their destinations as soon as possible. On the other hand, smaller companies have to weigh the cost-benefits of delivering fewer packages against total profits.
Companies that use last-mile delivery come in many sizes, but they’re all looking for relatively the same thing — optimizing their deliveries for maximum efficiency.
You might be seeing a trend with these last-mile delivery challenges. From the vast areas covered in rural areas to the heavy traffic of cities to the order volume, there’s one central theme with each of these aspects — route design. Designing and optimizing routes for the best possible efficiency is a key part of last-mile delivery. With the best delivery routes, companies can reap profits while satisfying customers.
Although companies can try to plan ahead as much as they can, there is always a certain level of unpredictability with last-mile delivery, such as:
- Bad weather: A sudden rainstorm or blizzard can pose an issue for last-mile deliveries — drivers might have to pull over and wait until the weather passes.
- Traffic surges: Accidents happen, causing sudden surges in traffic and gridlocked streets. In cities, this can be a particularly costly issue.
- Vehicle issues: Flat tires and an assortment of other vehicle issues could cause a truck to stop dead in its tracks, lengthening travel time.
That final leg of the shipment journey is filled with these kinds of unpredictable factors. Some, however, can be mitigated with optimized strategies.
Companies that outsource last-mile delivery to a reliable delivery business, for instance, will probably be in a better spot to absorb this unpredictability. When you have a flexible partner taking care of the last leg, you can trust they’ll adapt to the situation quickly and handle sudden changes with experienced hands.
Last-mile delivery is one of the most costly parts of the shipping process. Free shipping has become the new normal for customers everywhere, sometimes causing companies to eat the bill. With this increasingly common phenomenon and previously mentioned challenges, the need for innovation and better efficiency in this last segment of the shipment journey is becoming clear.
The Latest Trends in Last-Mile Delivery
To save money and improve efficiency, companies are looking at many ways to make last-mile delivery effective. Some of these ideas focus on promoting customer loyalty, while others seek to make distribution itself easier.
Here are some recent last-mile delivery trends.
Customers want to know where their package is at all times. With smart technology, the entire delivery process has become transparent, allowing customers to follow their package along its whole journey. Soon, innovative sensors inside packages may even let customers know their product’s temperature and humidity — important for deliveries such as food or medicine.
During the complex process of last-mile delivery, this smart technology can give the customer comfort. With a transparent look into the delivery, individuals may feel more inclined to order from that company again.
Companies have also started building new warehouses to ease the delivery process. The more warehouses a company has, the more easily it can stock up on inventory and be ready when an order is placed. This approach will reduce wasted time and improve efficiency when last-mile delivery comes into play. Amazon has taken full advantage of this strategy, building thousands of new warehouses across the country.
Many companies are specifically targeting urban warehouses as well so that they have easier access to a huge volume of customers. With major warehouses in a heavily populated area, businesses can offer one-day or even same-day shipping to thousands.
Some companies have started using artificial intelligence to examine trends and see when there might be a spike in demand for a particular product. During national sports events, for example, a company might decide to stock up on certain products in a specific location to get ready for those shipments. Having a supply at the ready could smooth out multiple areas of the shipping process and make that last-mile delivery get there in time.
Artificial intelligence can predict those trends and help companies make educated decisions about the demand for certain products.
With the intricate details involved in the last-mile delivery process, it usually just isn’t cost-effective for companies to execute these deliveries on their own. They often find an independent company that can take care of that stage of the journey.
The challenging part might be finding a business you can trust. Many delivery companies are using advanced technology and intricate route planning to improve efficiency. For enterprises looking to get a leg up on their competition and satisfy customers, those types of logistics partners could offer the perfect fit.
The Benefits of Optimizing Last-Mile Delivery Services
The latest trends in last-mile delivery services can be effective, and with the right execution, they can help boost productivity and make a delivery process more efficient. It’s important to look at the reasons why many businesses are spending massive amounts of time and energy to find innovative ways to solve last-mile delivery issues.
With the right optimization techniques, you can reap the many benefits of efficient last-mile delivery.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction
Customer experience is key with shipments. In that last stretch of the delivery service, you could make or break a customer’s experience. With optimized, efficient last-mile shipping, you can get packages to your customers swiftly. In turn, your consumers will be satisfied, and you can boost their loyalty.
Last-mile delivery services can be costly. With all the various factors in play, the line of profit could start to grow thin. With an optimized delivery process, you’ll have more control and be confident in the strategy you’ve crafted. You can face challenges more effectively, decreasing wasted time and high costs.
Overall, last-mile optimization will increase your company’s overall efficiency. Since that last stretch from warehouse to doorstep is so complex and integral to the entire shipping process, an optimized plan will do wonders for your company’s effectiveness at delivering goods. Increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs and boost productivity with optimization.
Talking about these benefits is one thing, but you might be wondering about some actionable steps you can take to make them become a reality.
How to Plan a Successful Last-Mile Delivery
Though last-mile delivery is complex, there are ways to simplify the process. With advanced technology, route planning and help from a great delivery company, you can craft an effective, optimized last-mile delivery strategy.
Communication within an organization is important, and with deliveries, communication with the customer is becoming even more essential. Texts, emails and shipping updates are all ways to communicate with a customer. This transparent access to the delivery process ensures a customer isn’t left in the dark and lets them know exactly where their package is at all times.
With packages containing valuable items, providing clarity and an easy connection becomes even more important to delivery.
Route planning is integral to the success of any last-mile delivery. Planning and designing the ideal route will ensure you’ve optimized your drivers’ journey for the most efficient experience possible. Optimized routes prevent prolonged journeys in rural areas and defend against traffic in urban sprawls. By focusing on delivery planning factors like time of day, vehicle capacity and the distance between stops, you can craft a cost-effective route.
Innovative technology can assist you with the last-mile delivery process. Software and AI can now help optimize deliveries and predict a variety of different factors while drivers are on the road. From providing streamlined communication to shipping logistics that can help you effectively plan routes, it’s clear that these types of technology will only continue to become more relevant in the shipping world.
Quality Delivery Companies
Outsourcing your last-mile deliveries is one of the best ways to protect against high costs and stay efficient. Even with all of the above strategies, you’ll likely need some help with execution.
An experienced, reliable delivery company can use advanced technology to plan routes and help you satisfy your customers. The last leg of delivery can be challenging, but enlisting some help from a quality courier will take some pressure off your shoulders.
Work With Street Fleet for Last-Mile Delivery
Street Fleet is the perfect company for your last-mile delivery needs. As an industry leader, we know what it takes to do a quality job for our clients. When you work with us, you’ll receive many benefits, including:
- Reliability: Our team is full of courteous professionals who understand that they’ll be representing our clients. Our drivers have the specialized qualifications for all your delivery needs, and our expert team is ready to answer any lingering questions you may have.
- Cost-effectiveness: We have the flexibility to adapt our fleet size to your specific needs. Whether you’re looking at a large volume of orders or something smaller, we can fit your scale and reduce any overhead costs you might otherwise have to absorb.
- Innovative technology: Our fully-integrated IT solutions give us unique abilities to optimize our deliveries. We also have tracking capabilities that allow you to transparently see where your packages are in during delivery. Our process is fully transparent, giving you comforting visibility from beginning to end.
- Customization: Our team is ready at all times. From urgent deliveries on-demand to recurring shipments, we are ready to answer the call and satisfy your customers. You can customize your delivery process exactly as you want, and we’ll follow through with the execution.
With these benefits, you can gain some confidence in last-mile delivery. Reduce costs, improve efficiency and gain control over your orders by working with Street Fleet.
Contact Street Fleet Today
Location, volume, route planning and more — there’s a lot to consider with last-mile delivery. Thankfully, you can make that process easier and get help from an experienced industry leader to ensure orders get to all your customers safely and on time.
Street Fleet is here to offer you our unique experience in the courier industry. Using advanced technology, a professional team and effective route planning, we can fulfill your requests and help you build customer loyalty. Create your account and start optimizing your last-mile delivery strategy today!