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August 21, 2019 Warehouse Services

Why the “Last Mile” is the Most Important in a Delivery

While consumer shipping used to mean waiting days for packages, the industry is changing and the “last mile” is more important than ever. People want their goods faster than ever.

Retailers promise next-day and same-day delivery. However, this change in delivery times has fundamentally changed the logistics industry. Today, new technologies and changing delivery methods make sure that deliveries get to consumers faster than ever. 

One of the most important parts of the delivery process is how a package actually gets to a consumer. In the industry, this is called the last mile. Here’s what you need to know about this crucial part of the supply chain. 

What is the last mile? 

Before, telecommunications and phone companies used the term last mile to refer to the connection between main lines and homes or businesses. Today, retailers, on-line sellers, and logistics companies use the term for a similar idea. 

In traditional retail logistics, a main flow of goods went from a production facility or factory to a store. Then, a consumer would purchase it and bring it home. Today, goods usually go from production to a warehouse instead.

The products still need to make it to a consumer’s home. The last mile becomes the trip between the warehouse and the product’s final destination. 

The rise of two-day shipping transformed the last mile.

On-line retail giant Amazon started two-day shipping in 2005. Before this date, two-day shipping was not common, and generally shorter shipping times means a higher shipping rate. However, more and more people shop online, and e-commerce is set to reach over $4 Trillion globally by 2021. Online shoppers have come to expect low-cost two-day shipping. Over the last 15 years, consumers have also come to expect shorter and shorter shipping times, with some online retailers now offering same-day shipping. 

Today, last mile logistics seek to bring goods from the retailer to the consumer as quickly as possible. One way logistics companies do this is through warehouses. Instead of shipping directly from a manufacturer or large warehouse, logistics companies set up smaller warehouses close to consumers.

This allows for goods to exist in a waiting area closer to consumers, hopefully ready to ship out at a moment’s notice. At AFP Global Logistics, our warehouse services provide superior inventory and delivery services. 

Today, technology is transforming the last mile. 

The last mile efficiency is a necessity, but it’s also expensive. So, many entrepreneurs and start-ups are trying to enter last mile logistics with new technologies. These technologies help with the challenges of logistics, including additional trucks, drivers, and loading areas. One of the most popular methods is using automation and robotics to get goods to consumers.

Start-ups Boxbot, Nuro, and Starship use self-driving cars and automated hubs to package and deliver products short distances. However, they are not widely used in the United States. Instead, most companies still rely on drivers with trucks and cars for delivery. AFP’s Retail Logistics services include bundled warehousing, fulfillment, and transportation, and many other retail-specific logistics concerns. 

Data analytics and big-data analysis can also make last mile logistics more efficient. Logistics companies can look at real-time and historical traffic data to evaluate how long shipping will actually take. 

Eco and climate change concerns may also alter last mile deliveries. 

Recent surveys and data show that fast delivery isn’t just more expensive, it can be worse for the environment. Instead of one truck delivering many packages, many trucks may be delivering one or two packages before returning to a warehouse for a different delivery. One study conducted by MIT showed that when consumers are aware of the environmental impact of the CO2 emissions of a shorter delivery time, they are willing to wait for their delivery. A focus on green supply chains may alter last mile logistics. 

Contact us today for more information on our retail logistics services. Call 410.590.1234 (toll-free 800.274.1237), email us at, or fill out our contact form. You can stay up to date with the latest from AFP Global Logistics on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.