The Growing Focus on Last-Mile Delivery

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of activity related to last-mile delivery — from startups providing last-mile delivery services to advancements in transportation management systems and mobile technologies to more effectively plan, execute, and track last-mile deliveries, as well as several acquisitions in this space.

What’s driving this focus on last-mile delivery?

“This is an area of transportation that is impacting everyone’s lives on a daily basis, whether you’re utilizing GrubHub or Amazon Prime or you’re ordering appliances from a large retailer that are brought into our homes,” said Jeremy Becker, Senior Manager Supply Chain Consulting at Transplace in a recent episode of Talking Logistics. “It’s become a consumer expectation and there’s an element of customer service around it too…Retailers that aren’t capable of omni-channel distribution and aren’t able to deliver goods to customers in a variety of ways will have growth limitations.”

On the operations side, “significant coordination is required [between shippers, carriers, and customers] to provide a tight delivery window,” said Becker. “The ability to deliver on weekends and when people are at home, especially if you’re delivering something that needs to be taken into the home and assembled, is also very important.”

How is this segment of the transportation market different from the others? Any special considerations when it comes to finding last-mile service providers? Watch the short video clip below for Becker’s response:

“This is not a mode that companies have managed as tightly or for as long as other modes like truckload,” said Becker. “Because there’s more variability in it, it’s been a little harder to tackle. Just getting the data around it and the quality information companies need can be a challenge.”

I encourage you to watch the rest of my conversation with Jeremy for additional insights and advice on this topic, including questions shippers should ask themselves to assess whether they have all of the pieces in place to succeed with last-mile delivery. Then post a question or comment and keep the conversation going!

Comments

  1. Hey Adrian – I really love all of your stuff and watching your video interviews – however – with regards to “Last Mile” – there is a lot of confusion in our industry. The term “Last Mile” has about as many definitions as the term “Logistics” does – it means different things to different people. (which I found Jeremy Becker sorta funny calling Last Mile a “segment” of transportation not like “normal” transporation like Full Truck Load) I’ve been in the white glove inside delivery business for the past 25 years at TECHnical TRANSportation – and – we have seen the definition “evolve” and change. I agree that Jeremy was correct in that there are evolving delivery challenges & frustrations that retailers and e-commerce folks are now facing for providing their customers with inside residential delivery of large consumer commodities that require two men, a liftgate delivery truck, inside delivery, placement in the home, unpacking, dunnage removal, product assembly and end user tutorial. (and of course, their customers all want “Free Shipping”) I agree with Jeremy that as customer demands keep increasing retail shippers are now having to “manage” independent variables they never faced in the past such as the delivery crew coordinating delivery appointment directly with a residential end user (ie: Thursday is not good for me as Suzie has soccer practice that day, can you bring it to my home on Friday instead ?) as well as also now having to provide additional services at delivery such as product assembly and end user tutorial. Here’s your answer to this dilemma. The retail folks are now catching up with what medical manufacturers have been doing for the past 25 years. Watching the interview – Jeremy Becker seemed like he was ready to throw up his hands and “give up” ! Yes Jeremy, there are “nationwide” carriers (such as TECH TRANS) that can provide white glove inside delivery to every zip code in the 48 USA with all of the data reports and web page tracking and reporting tools. We have been performing these services (white glove inside delivery to locations that do not have a loading dock) for the medical manufacturers for 25 years. White glove inside delivery of ultrasounds, anesthesia units, blood analyzers, surgical towers, etc, etc, for all of the major medical device manufacturers. What got TECH TRANS involved in residential delivery was when one of our medical clients, 20 years ago, asked us to do white glove inside delivery of kidney dialysis machines to residential patients that lived in the boonies who had no access to dialysis clinics “in the city”. We also discovered that there were major high end retailers and e-commerce mail order folks that were selling very high end consumer items (ie: massage chairs for $12,000, high end leather, etc). Yes, Jeremy, if you are a retailer, you “can” set up a program with a white glove inside delivery carrier that allows for the shipper to have control and visibility for the additional variables for residential delivery such as coordination of the delivery appointment with the residential consignee, product assembly, and even end user tutorial. We train our delivery crews on our “TECH TRANS University” web site similar to taking a college course on line. They have to log in (we know who the students are), they open the instructional videos, (we know what homework they reviewed), and then they have to pass a test (we know that they understand what they studied) – then they are allowed to handle the delivery & extra requirements. I apologize for sending you a short novel on all of this but I wanted you and Jeremy that there are some high end retailers that have been successfully doing residential delivery….for years. Again – I enjoy all of your stuff. You and Jeremy may want to look at one of our short videos on our web site at http://www.techtrans.com Regards, Louis Black – Vice President, National Accounts, TECHnical TRANSportation http://www.techtrans.com dfwlouis@techtrans.com (I think you and I are connected on LinkedIn)

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