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What are last-mile logistics and what are the challenges?

Logistics has undergone some significant changes in recent years. These are the result of a boost in online sales during the pandemic.

Suddenly, shoppers were no longer able to visit physical stores, so instead they brought everything they needed online, turning to ecommerce sites in order to get what was needed delivered directly – and safely – to the doorstep.

According to the UK’s top 100 retailers, online traffic had increased by 52% during Covid-19. Similarly, in America there was a 55% leap in ecommerce sales, amounting to $1.7 trillion.

Almost overnight, we realised just how much we rely on delivery services. Drivers made their way across the map, getting everything we’d ordered to us – and they’ve continued to do so in the years since those lockdowns in 2020.

But the service they provide now has changed. From technological advances to same day delivery options, logistics is more advanced than ever before.

Completing a delivery all comes down to the ‘last mile’. In order to understand how we’ve come to have the high-quality delivery services we get now, we need to begin with the last mile.

What is last-mile delivery?

Of all the stages of the delivery process, the last stage – the ‘last mile’ – is the most important. This involves the transportation of goods from a distribution hub to the final destination, usually a residential address. It’s the phase that determines the success or failure of the entire supply chain process. Companies strive to optimise last-mile logistics to enhance efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Challenges in last-mile delivery

Several challenges affect last-mile logistics, impacting businesses in various ways. Some of these include:

  • Faster deliveries: There’s an increasing demand for faster deliveries, driven by consumer expectations set by industry giants. This pressure often leads to increased operational costs for companies as they invest in advanced delivery options and technologies.

 

  • Traffic: Congestion and traffic in urban areas pose a significant challenge. Navigating crowded streets not only slows down deliveries but also contributes to higher fuel consumption, further escalating costs. This can have an impact on customer satisfaction, especially if a customer has paid for faster delivery.

 

 

Route optimisation and the rising need for contactless deliveries amid global health concerns also add to the list of challenges.

Impact on businesses

The challenges in last-mile logistics can have a profound impact on businesses. Increased operational costs strain profit margins, potential revenue loss due to delayed or failed deliveries damages the bottom line, and customer dissatisfaction rises, negatively impacting brand reputation. Failing to address these challenges can result in a competitive disadvantage in the market.

Overcoming challenges

Overcoming last-mile challenges is crucial for businesses aiming to stay ahead. Implementing advanced route optimisation software, using real-time tracking, and investing in a diverse fleet, including electric vehicles and bicycle couriers, can streamline operations.

By enhancing delivery speed, accuracy, and customer experience, businesses can gain a competitive edge.

Sustainable last-mile solutions

Businesses are increasingly turning towards sustainable practices. Electric vehicles and bicycle couriers reduce carbon emissions, providing eco-friendly alternatives.

Sustainable last-mile solutions not only contribute to a healthier planet but also align with the growing preference for environmentally responsible businesses. Companies that embrace eco-friendly delivery options not only reduce their carbon footprint but also position themselves as socially responsible.

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