What is Last Mile Delivery?

Last-mile delivery is a process that physically connects brands with consumers through the delivery of a purchase. Its primary objective is to deliver every order accurately and efficiently within the specified time interval. It is the supply chain’s most critical and expensive leg since it enhances the delivery experience and business profitability. It is the final yet crucial step of the delivery process. 

Last-mile delivery offers adaptability and scalability, which are essential for business growth. It delivers the package to customers, irrespective of their location, within the delivery time window. It uses advanced algorithms and protocols to calculate the optimal delivery route for the fleet. 

How does Last Mile Delivery Work?

Last-mile delivery is the final step in the supply chain, where packages are delivered from the warehouse to the customer’s location. Its working can be defined in the below steps:

  • Order Placement: The customer orders using a mobile app, which the logistics company receives and processes. 
  • Order Fulfillment: The retailers pick, pack, and prepare the order for shipment at the warehouse. The shipments are then loaded onto delivery vehicles such as trucks, trains, or marine vessels. 
  • Route Optimization: The delivery routes are optimized for delivering the packages in the most efficient way possible. The company uses advanced and complex algorithms to optimize the route based on distance, traffic, and delivery time window. 
  • Last Mile Delivery: The driver uses position tracking technologies like GPS to pinpoint the customer’s location and communicate with them in real-time. The driver must deliver the package to customers within the delivery time window, irrespective of location.
  • Delivery Confirmation: The order is marked as complete once a customer receives the package. The confirmation is usually done using a signature or photo-capturing system.

Importance of Last Mile Delivery

Last-mile delivery is a key factor in the logistics industry. It helps in the smooth flow of the supply chain. Some of its important aspects are:

  • Timely Delivery: It offers the best in-time delivery, and a reputed company can even provide instantaneous deliveries. It helps organizations attract lots of customers. 
  • Customer Assurance: It ensures the packages are delivered to customers within the specified delivery time window. It uses advanced algorithms to find the optimal delivery path. It attracts customers who have tight deadlines. 
  • Quick Delivery: It is renowned for providing efficient, effective, and prompt deliveries. It ensures that orders will be delivered safely to the customer’s doorstep. It is ideal for those who are busy or unable to wait around for delivery. 
  • Doorstep Delivery: Last-mile delivery services will reach your doorstep no matter where you are. It delivers the package to customers, irrespective of their location, within the delivery time window. It provides convenience to consumers. 
  • Precise Shipment tracking: It provides a real-time shipment tracking system that helps customers know the status of their order and when it will arrive. Providing a precise and interactive delivery tracking system can attract lots of customers. 

Challenges in Last Mile Delivery Logistics

Last-mile delivery is a complex logistics process that enhances the customer experience, maximizes delivery capacity, and improves shipment productivity while maintaining low operating costs. Some of its challenges include:

  • Traffic Congestion: Traffic congestion is among the most challenging tasks in last-mile delivery. It makes it difficult for drivers to reach the customer’s location on time.  
  • Limited Visibility: Once packages are out for delivery, it becomes difficult for logistics companies to track them. This leads to limited visibility of goods and delivery items. 
  • Managing Returns: Return management is also challenging as it requires significant resources and logistics coordination to ensure that goods are returned to the appropriate location within the specified time interval. 
  • Missed Deliveries: Missed deliveries pose a challenge for logistic companies since they increase operational costs and cause customer dissatisfaction. 
  • Cost Management: It is difficult to manage costs, especially in urban areas where traffic and other challenges increase delivery time and costs. Also, fuel prices are volatile and difficult to forecast. 
  • Delivery Window Constraints: Sometimes, the customer sets delivery time windows on the order, which can be challenging to meet and lead to missed deliveries. This further reduces customer satisfaction.  
  • Unpredictable Demand: Unpredictable customer demands always impact last-mile delivery because they lead to the inefficient use of resources and add extra expense. 
  • Environmental Impact: The emissions from delivery vehicles and packaging waste significantly impact the environment. 
  • Limited Access: Access to roads and infrastructure is limited in rural areas. This makes delivering packages in these locations challenging, leading to extended delivery times and increased expenses.
  • Security and Theft: Once packages are out for delivery, it becomes difficult to track them. They are vulnerable to theft and damage. Logistics companies must take precautions and ensure the safety of the delivery of goods.

Last-mile delivery is crucial for the smooth flow of the supply chain and satisfying customer demands. It maintains communication among the different actors involved in the supply chain and increases efficiency, service quality, and the company’s profitability. The technological solutions can improve the efficiency and accuracy of last-mile delivery and enhance the customer experience.