The "last mile" begins when the parcel gets to the loading space of the courier's vehicle. From now on, the clock runs, starting a race against time along the route between the warehouse or distribution center and the end customer's home. This phase is full of difficulties, adversities and logistical problems that keep the employees of courier companies awake at night. The so far simple and single-track supply chain is divided into thousands of legs, which consist of individual shipments, each with a different destination, addressee and delivery date. As a result, the delivery process ceases to be mass and begins to turn into a highly individualized operation that requires optimization on a large scale. These solutions implemented at the "last mile" stage are of the greatest importance for the efficiency, savings and ecology of the entire delivery process.
As part of this post, we will present the 6 most effective ways to increase the efficiency of the "last mile" stage
- The use of parcel machines (lockers)
It is this point that deserves first place because of its revolutionary nature. Why? The use of automated parcel stations centralizes delivery, turning dozens of addresses into one common pickup point. It eliminates the need to deliver to the indicated points, transferring the process of collecting the package to the addressee, at the same time giving him the opportunity to do it in a convenient way at any time of the day, at the most convenient moment, without having to wait for the courier at home. Pickup is extremely easy and quick.
- Optimization of delivery routes
A typical courier day consists of dozens of stops and hundreds of kilometers traveled between them. Thousands of options for planning the route, one of which is the most optimal, resulting in less time spent on the road, which translates into less environmental pollution and cost savings. How to find this golden mean? This perfect route? Currently, this is done by advanced digital algorithms that analyze all possible variants, taking into account many variables, in order to ultimately save time, money and kilograms of harmful substances emitted into the atmosphere.
- Use of local infrastructure
The function of delivery points for parcels can be performed not only by automated collection devices, but also kiosks, local shops, restaurants where we can collect parcels addressed to us. The commercial infrastructure in the immediate vicinity can also help in other ways. It is about the so-called hyperlocal market. That is, retail outlets offering product delivery at a dizzying pace (even within an hour), in a specific small area, using zero-emission methods (bicycle, scooter). Initiatives like these take the burden off the traditional "last mile" while allowing buyers to receive their goods virtually instantaneously.
- Ecological planning of deliveries
Ensuring the distribution of goods in an environmentally friendly manner is not an easy task and requires taking into account many factors: fleet selection, optimal routes, appropriate packaging and a well-planned delivery schedule. All this, combined with the need to obtain customer satisfaction, seems difficult. However, research shows that thanks to increasing environmental awareness among recipients of shipments, there is a tendency to accept a slightly extended delivery time, provided that it means a reduction in the carbon footprint. Thanks to this, it is not necessary to deliver as quickly as possible, at the expense of inefficient use of resources (half-empty transports).
As can be seen from the above points, the main problem in proper "last mile" logistics is its negative impact on the environment through exhaust emissions. You can try to eliminate the problem at source by replacing traditional methods of transport with zero-emission ones. According to many courier companies from around the world, this would happen by 2025. Taken realistically, such a target may seem difficult to achieve within the set deadline, but each year brings us closer and closer to the last mile of zero emissions. We will see the first projects of this type in large cities, and we can see a little foretaste, for example, in London, where the CitySprint operator uses bicycles, scooters and electric or hydrogen vans to deliver shipments as part of instant deliveries within the city. Such solutions save thousands of tons of harmful substances emitted into the atmosphere.
More shipments are directly related to more returns. After all, there will always be products that do not match the recipient, are defective, incorrectly selected or require a complaint for other reasons. Each return further adds to the last mile logistical costs. So how do you make them as little as possible and simple? Use the first point of this list – automatic parcel stations can be an ideal intermediary in processing returns. Put the goods in the locker, the courier will take care of the rest - simply, quickly and conveniently.
For the better
Courier companies are constantly striving to optimize the last mile stage. This is where the greatest losses are hidden, but also the greatest savings. It is worth paying attention to the proper planning of all processes of this phase and the use of opportunities offered by technology, because those who masterfully achieve unmatched efficiency at the last mile stage have a chance to stay ahead of the competition, while bearing in mind what is most important - protection of the natural environment , which in the 21st century is of fundamental importance not only in its literal but also in terms of image.
Do you want to improve the last mile in your business? Contact our specialists. Their experience will allow to match the appropriate solutions leading to the set goals.