Last Mile Logistics

general 18 September 2018

Logistics is arguably the glue that holds consumer driven industries such as FMCG, ecommerce and even healthcare together. So why does such an integral infrastructure often fall short in the last mile?

Last mile delivery is a term used in supply chain to describe the final process of the passage of goods, the stage where products are delivered to the customer door. It accounts for the largest overheads associated with delivery at a staggering 53% of total costs (ironically oxymoronic considering the modern expectation of ‘free shipping’). It is the vital stage in ensuring customer satisfaction, and also the stage where most of the challenges reside.

Marketplace competition in this area has never been fiercer. The quick ecommerce turnarounds giants like Amazon have catalysed has further complicated things; not only the biggest expense, people want it, and they want it NOW, not within a broad delivery window which leaves them homebound and clockwatching. Time constraints are tight. Customers unfortunately don’t see the bigger picture of route management for the multiple drops that drivers have to make when the ‘out for delivery’ notification appears – not a thought is paid to route optimisation, they just want their stuff, as fast as possible, thank you very much. The inefficiency of these multiple drops along with an increasingly unrealistic customer demand is what makes the last mile so arduous and costly, taking a hefty chunk from the bottom line.

Customer demands can further complicate the last mile in the way of delivery preference variables; from deliver to a neighbour to leaving it in the bin (which is never a good idea!), drivers have to check carefully for what they can and can’t do with a parcel. There’s often a desire for communication between the customer and delivery person, which again delays the process, eating further into the delivery window due to interruptions caused by dealing with real time enquiries.  

Last mile inadequacies have been the incentive to a large part of supply chain automation efforts; driver shortages mean self-driving vehicles, sky dropping drones and roll along robots all dedicated to streamlining the final leg could be the last mile ambassadors of the future. Independent couriers are also becoming a last mile disruptor, providing rapid delivery of goods based on location service compatibility (think Uber for your online shopping). Much like Uber, these companies can also often provide real time traceability of your parcel through GPS tracking, which is fast becoming a perquisite; loose timeslots are no longer enough.  

With ecommerce sales predicted to exceed £1.06 billion in 2018, last mile logistics could be the USP that’s the difference between securing an online sale or losing it to a quicker, more efficient competitor. Options like Amazon prime mean having cheap next day solutions is a must to remain significant.

Being part of the Palletline and Partnerlink networks allows AKW to handle the last mile without having to outsource to third party or non-professional couriers. This removes communication barriers, ensuring standard operating procedures and consistent best practices are applied; satisfaction is guaranteed.

If you’d like to know how we can improve your logistics experience, contact [email protected] for a bespoke quotation.

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