The Challenge of the Last Mile

Shipping has changed a lot throughout history. It used to be risky to send anything to another country. You would have no guarantee that your boat wouldn’t sink or be attacked by pirates. As technology advanced things improved for logistics. Better systems and protocols were put in place, and insurance was a big help too. 

  • Modern Era: Today, shipping has new challenges. Not with international aspects, like transferring cargo at transport hubs, but it is the last few miles of a package’s journey, that has the most problems and inefficiencies. This has resulted in new services like last mile delivery from Tecdis Network who are a leading UK white glove logistics company. Modern problems, like leaving unattended packages at people’s homes, can result in porch pirates intercepting the goods. But what if the people are never home during the day. With the rise in e-commerce, last mile delivery is an area of special concern for logistic companies.
  • Getting it There: It is one thing to deliver a package to a warehouse that has shipping and receiving and regular hours of business. It is another to send a valuable item to a college student that gave his friend’s apartment as a shipping address. It might be that when the package arrives, no one at the apartment knows who he is, and the phone number doesn’t help because the student is in class. This can be an expensive headache for shipping companies.
  • Tracking: It is easy enough to track an item these days. You can watch items leave the factory and make their way to you. But there comes a point when the tracking site will say something like ‘sent for delivery’. And this message might not change for days. Despite the short distance, the last segment of a package’s journey is often the most uncertain, and it might take the most time. 
  • Distribution Priorities: One of the realities of last mile shipping is the diminishing value of a package en route. When it started its journey, a package was part of a large shipment in a container. The value of the container was high. But when the package is just an item on a shelf in a delivery van, it represents very little value. It is hard for a big company to justify extra trips, and going out of their way for such a small return. So, many delays in the final mile happen because of economics.
  • The Digital Solution: As we have harnessed the power of the internet for our e-commerce needs, logistics companies have also gotten on board to create a business model like Air BNB and Uber. Where crowd sourced private contractors, take on the responsibility of the last mile. The flexibility of the individual makes them able to be more cost effective and focused on their few packages, than a shipping company that has a whole region to be concerned about.
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With the addition of crowdsourced delivery, many final mile problems are more easily handled, and the flexibility of the contractor helps to accommodate the random circumstances at the destination. Individual packages represent greater value to independent drivers, than they do to large organisations, so the extra effort sometimes required is more acceptable and likely to occur. As new solutions emerge, greater efficiencies will be certain to follow.

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