Last-Mile Delivery: Solutions to Online Retailers’ Biggest Challenge

The growth of e-commerce comes down to one thing: the convenience of online shopping. But the pandemic’s increased use of this purchasing method has fueled another , more difficult challenge—last-mile delivery. The final step in the supply chain process is when a product is transferred from a warehouse or distribution center to the consumer’s doorstep. Suppliers are being forced to ship and deliver parcels at rapid speeds, with online sales now accounting for 33% of total retail sales, up from 5% just 10 years ago. As a result, the last mile is now the most costly and time-consuming process in the supply chain, frustrating suppliers, delivery drivers, and customers.

Higher Expectations for Faster Delivery

Sixty-one percent of consumers want faster deliveries, pressuring e-commerce companies and delivery personnel to speed up operations to keep customers happy. This expectation has pushed large retailers to crack down on suppliers to meet reduced delivery windows, even fining suppliers if they are unable to fulfill a one-to-two day delivery period for an order.

Compounding matters, consumers return an average of 15% to 40% of purchases. Online returns can cost as much as $10 to $20 per item, which means implementing efficient reverse logistics to save customers’ and suppliers’ wallets.

Combatting the last-mile involves bringing inventory closer to customers by developing new distribution centers to shorten delivery routes. Other methods such as curbside pickup, smart locker pickup or return, ship free to-store, and free return to store also help lower costs and meet consumer demands.

Luckily, technology can help.

Minimizing Costs and Meeting Expectations with Technology

Last-mile challenges are being addressed with new technological solutions. This includes changes such as automating fulfilment and dispatch, allowing for faster shipping and stocking. Optimizing delivery routes through fleet management or telematics, and using digital tracking also creates a greater sense of visibility for delivery personnel and consumers – allowing both parties to better understand where the packages are and the timing for when they’ll be delivered. With all of the insight that these technological advancements provide, the use of mobile devices streamlines information access throughout the delivery pipeline so delivery personnel can access this data in one location. By transforming operations and keeping costs low, businesses not only improve customer satisfaction, they also reduce the stress on delivery operators, which in turn improves the consumer retail experience

Learn more about how TOUGHBOOK® mobile solutions are helping to meet the demands of the transportation and logistics industry.