The Importance of the Last Mile


The last mile is quickly becoming the most important mile in shipping. In 2019, global e-commerce sales are expected to increase by 21.5%, according to recent reports. As recently as three years ago, consumer expectations fluctuated between three to five days for delivery of any item purchased online. Expectations have now shifted to a minimum threshold of one day delivery (preferably for free), and in many instances, two hours from the time the sale is completed. What role does speed of delivery play into your online purchases?

When examining the overall cost for shippers, the expense of the last mile delivery is substantial, accounting for almost 53% of the total cost of delivery. As consumers become savvier with their delivery options, this cost can no longer be passed on to the customer, as many will choose to forgo the entire sale. Recent research shows that 28% of customers said they will abandon their purchases if the shipping costs are too high. This forces the retailer and logistics partner to shoulder the cost or implement creative solutions.

One such solution that continues to gain momentum is the use of crowdsourcing technology to meet the customers’ needs, as well as control costs. A large pool of non-professional couriers, such as those working for Postmates, Instacart and others, are in prime position to meet the important and growing last mile delivery needs.

Providing full transparency for customers through live package tracking, along with a combination of delivery options, gives the customers perceived “control” over their deliveries. Giving customers a selection of delivery windows, text and email updates eliminates consumer delivery friction, making the last mile stress-free for all parties involved.  Many delivery companies now send a photo of the customer’s items, location of the delivery and information from the driver in real-time via an app that syncs with the retailer’s POS system. Over-communication during the last mile trip is a positive trend that will likely continue moving forward.

What are your expectations for delivery of an item you purchase online? Meet us in the comments section with your thoughts.