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Changing Trends in Last Mile Delivery in E-Commerce

Delivery Truck

There’s a growing body of research that shows that last mile logistics, especially related to the urban environment, is more important now than ever before. The rapid expansion of cities and the e-commerce home delivery boom have shifted the focus from traditional last-mile logistics that emphasised point-of-sale delivery. Last mile logistics focuses on delivering products to consumers in the shortest span of time possible.
As e-commerce expands, more retailers compete to make sure that the delivery time to their customers is reduced. Just one instance of failure can result in them losing a significant number of customers from the same region.
Consumer demand isn’t the only thing impacting last mile deliveries. It faces a number of other challenges, particularly in the complex and busy environment of cities and megacities.
“In the city, shipments are typically much smaller and more fragmented than in regional transport,” says Matthias Winkenbach, a research scientist at MIT’s Centre for Transportation and Logistics and a Director at the Megacities Logistics Lab. “There’s greater uncertainty and complexity caused by increasingly dense and congested cities.”

Challenges in Last Mile in E-Commerce
  • Inadequate infrastructure
  • Unpredictable patterns of consumer demand
  • Large number of failed last mile deliveries e.g. if the end receiver isn’t home
  • Significant amount of product returns
  • Lack of logistics land
Ways to Improve Last Mile in E-Commerce

Experts have suggested a number of ways to improve the existing system of last mile logistics.

  1. Allowing Customers to Select Delivery Times

If end users choose their own delivery windows, the number of failed first-time deliveries decreases significantly. E-commerce retailers can opt to offer consumers a range of timings for delivery, which, in turn, makes sure someone receives the delivery on time.

  1. Using Advanced Algorithms

If retailers choose omni-channel fulfilment systems, they have access to advanced algorithms that optimise last mile delivery. The algorithms can effectively map delivery routes and collection areas to assign deliveries to relevant vehicles. Thus, delivery schedules are convenient and cost-effective for both consumers and retailers.

  1. Improving Communication with End Users

An effective communication system guarantees lower failure rates of first-time deliveries and fewer product returns. It also inspires consumer confidence in the delivery service, thereby ensuring customer satisfaction. 

  1. Utilise Digital Proof of Delivery

It is important to track orders all the way to the last leg of delivery. In order to do this, retailers and businesses should use appropriate digital time stamps that will provide an accurate proof of time and place of delivery. Any issues that arise during the delivery process can then be addressed immediately.

Last Mile Logistics Trends in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the Royal Mail has predicted that parcel volumes and deliveries will grow by 4.5 to 5.5 percent per year. With such rapid growth, e-commerce retailers and carriers will need to grow their delivery networks, storage space, delivery fleets, and other infrastructure to match consumer demand.

Already, the rise of e-commerce and its convenience for consumers had spurred demand for logistics land. This has led to a rise in micro-consolidation centres handling last mile deliveries to urban areas.

On-demand warehousing and other smart warehousing options are tackling the problem of insufficient logistics land.

For instance, LogistCompare’s’s smart warehousing solutions allow retailers seeking storage space to browse through a selection of warehouses fitting their needs, including rates and reviews from other users.  Warehouse providers can also use the platform to rent space and manage their listings online.