Of all the processes that make up the logistics chain of an online store, the most critical of all is known as the “ last mile ”. This last process drives both logistics providers and ecommerce owners crazy.
And it is sure that on some occasion it has even happened to you. The courier is at your door and cannot deliver that order that you are waiting so urgently, because you are away from home or you are at work …
Today we will see in depth what the last mile is, all the problems that it entails and how to solve all those problems.
What is the last mile?
The “ last mile ” is the final delivery step of an order that a customer places in an online store. The last process within the entire distribution chain.
It is a step in which very few kilometers are already traveled, from the last distribution point (distribution center, store or warehouse), to the delivery address.
This could be considered the most important step in the entire logistics chain of an ecommerce. The client not only expects that his order arrives on time, but also that it does so in optimal conditions (that the packaging of his order does not arrive broken, or covered, or stained).
Unfortunately, it is the process that currently presents the most problems for both ecommerce owners and logistics companies themselves.
The last mile is very important for any electronic commerce, since it is at stake all its prestige, its image and the trust of the client. This last fundamental point if we want the customer to buy again in the future in our online store.
Precisely for this reason the communication and management of all the information between the ecommerce, the logistics operator and the client is essential. You must work closely with your logistics operator so that deliveries are made in the best possible way. And when it comes to solving incidents (and surely there will be), do it as efficiently and quickly as possible.
What problems do we find in the last mile?
Delivery times: In general, delivery times to individuals are usually very limited; only mornings, only afternoons. The delivery times are very limited which can cause problems in the delivery to individuals.
Small shipments: The recipients of ecommerce are mainly individuals. This makes both the number and weight of shipments less than if it were a company.
Urban areas: The vast majority of deliveries tend to be in urban areas. This translates into traffic jams, fewer and fewer areas for loading and unloading. All of this making it difficult for the delivery person to work and therefore delaying orders.
Short delivery times: Anyone who makes an online purchase wants their order as soon as possible. The delivery men will be the worst offenders at this point, they won’t be able to waste a single minute and this is sometimes complicated due to external factors such as city traffic, as we mentioned before.
High delivery costs : Last mile delivery costs are usually the highest. Inefficiencies also arise when the delivery of an order cannot be made on the first attempt and the order has to be returned to the warehouse.
Transport companies: It seems unbelievable, but today we still find some courier companies that do not ship to individuals because they have to go upstairs or the customer is absent during delivery.
High percentage of shipments to individuals: As we mentioned previously, shipments to individuals cause more problems than shipments to companies; absence of these during the delivery, the time lost in going up to the home, etc.
Small vehicles: As generally for the last mile large vehicles are not used, this means that the delivery people have to make more trips from the warehouse to the destinations.
Solutions to the problem of the last mile
Optimize delivery routes: Design and plan in advance the delivery routes for each day. For this it may be useful to use specialized software. With this, we will avoid closed streets, traffic congestion and we will also be able to distribute more orders in fewer trips.
Use of lighter vehicles: Although a smaller vehicle means less order load, with a lighter vehicle we can move more agilely around the city. The trend is towards the use of electric or hybrid vehicles, which are more efficient and which are also more respectful of the environment.
Alternative convenience points: The “ click & collect ” is a delivery system that makes a collection point available to the customer, either in a physical store or at a convenience point, which could be an electronic ticket office.
App’s and special devices for delivery people: Thanks to specific apps and devices for delivery people, they can confirm their deliveries in real time and also manage incidents in the shortest possible time. In addition, this type of device, which many logistics companies already use, has an electronic signature, which makes the delivery worker’s job easier.
Night distribution: If for whatever reason we do not have lighter vehicles and the delivery has to be done by a large truck, the delivery can be made at night. In this way, traffic will be practically zero and there will be more facilities when loading and unloading.
Given all the problems that the last mile can pose, choosing an efficient logistics provider will be the key to improving your customer satisfaction. The best logistics providers are able to face all challenges and efficiently solve problems that may arise. They will also be able to offer all the facilities to customers so that they can know the status of their order at all times, know the delivery schedule, know if their order has left the warehouse, etc. Transparency at all times with the client so that he knows at all times the status of his order.