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A Comprehensive Guide to Last Mile Delivery

last mile delivery

Last mile delivery tracking is a system that tracks the progress of a package from the moment it leaves the distribution center to the moment it is delivered to the customer. This type of tracking is essential for last mile logistics companies to ensure that packages are delivered on time and that they arrive in good condition. 

Most systems use GPS to track the location of the package as it moves through the delivery process. The system can also provide information about how long it takes for the package to be delivered, as well as any delays that may occur along the way. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the different ways to track last mile delivery and what you need to know in order to ensure a smooth process. We’ll also take a look at some of the challenges of last mile delivery.

So whether you’re a business owner or consumer, read on for essential insights into this growing industry!

What Is Last Mile Delivery?

Last mile delivery is the final stage of the shipping process when packages are delivered to customers’ homes or businesses. It’s called the last mile because it’s often the most expensive and time-consuming part of the journey, requiring special expertise and equipment. 

Last mile delivery companies specialize in this final leg of the journey, making sure that packages are delivered quickly and efficiently. In recent years, it has become even more important as e-commerce sales have skyrocketed.

With more and more people shopping online, there’s a growing need to improve last mile visibility. As a result, companies have seen a boom in business and getting packages from point A to point B is now faster and easier than ever before.

last mile delivery

What is the Last Mile Delivery Process?

There are five key steps to help ensure your last mile delivery process is smooth while not putting additional strain on your budget and business. 

Processing of Order

The first step in the last mile delivery process is the processing of orders. This involves the gathering and organizing of all necessary information related to a customer’s order, such as product details, shipping address and payment method. This step helps ensure that all other subsequent steps go smoothly.

Order Arrives at the Transportation Hub

After the order is processed, it will arrive at the transportation hub. This is where a courier or delivery service takes possession of the package and begins to prepare the shipment for further transport to its destination. Here, the package is weighed, scanned and checked for accuracy.

Orders are Designated to Delivery Personnel 

Once the package arrives at the transportation hub, delivery personnel are assigned to ensure that the package is delivered on time. Delivery personnel can come in various forms such as contracted couriers, third-party services or even in-house staff. 

Parcels are assigned based on their estimated delivery time, the distance from the transportation hub to the recipient’s address and other factors. 

Package is Scanned Loaded onto Delivery Vehicle

The package is loaded onto a delivery vehicle and sent out for further transport to its destination. 

This step may vary depending on the capabilities of the courier or service provider. For example, some services may be able to track a package in real time, while others may not.  

Package is Delivered to Recipient’s Address

The final step of the last mile delivery process is when the package is delivered to its recipient’s address. Delivery personnel must ensure that the parcel arrives on time and in perfect condition.

They also must check for accuracy to ensure that the right package is delivered to the right person. In addition, proof of delivery must be collected to complete the delivery and prevent any potential fraud.


Challenges of last mile delivery

Urban congestion

The increasing population and urbanization have led to congested cities and crowded streets. Navigating through heavy traffic can significantly delay deliveries, making it difficult for drivers to meet delivery timeframes. This challenge is exacerbated during peak hours and in densely populated areas.

Unexpected accidents, construction, route changes

Last-mile delivery drivers have to contend with unpredictable events such as accidents, road construction, or sudden changes in traffic patterns. These disruptions can lead to delays and impact delivery schedules, requiring agile adjustments to routes to maintain efficiency.

Optimizing routes

Optimizing delivery routes is crucial for efficient last-mile delivery. Planning the most efficient route for each delivery, taking into account traffic conditions, delivery time windows, and distances, can be complex and time-consuming. Efficient route planning helps save time, fuel costs, and vehicle wear and tear.

High costs and low margins

Last-mile delivery is often one of the most expensive aspects of the supply chain. Costs include vehicle maintenance, fuel, labor, insurance, and technology investments. However, customers’ expectations of free or low-cost shipping can lead to slim profit margins for delivery service providers.

Customer expectations

Customers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to last-mile delivery. They expect fast and flexible delivery options, such as same-day or next-day delivery, real-time tracking, and the ability to change delivery times or locations. Meeting these expectations is challenging for companies trying to balance efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Returns and redeliveries

Returns are a common occurrence in e-commerce, and last-mile delivery companies must handle them efficiently. Handling returns involves additional costs and logistics, as the package needs to be retrieved from the customer and returned to the seller or warehouse. Redeliveries are also necessary when customers are not available at the first delivery attempt, further adding to operational complexities.

How to Optimize Last Mile Delivery

There are several ways you can optimize your last-mile delivery. You can choose to incorporate all or some of these into your operation. 

Offer Flexible Delivery Options

Ensuring that the customer experience meets expectations is essential for retail success. One way to optimize last mile delivery is to offer flexible delivery options such as shipping to alternate addresses, curbside pickup, same day delivery, or faster shipping times. 

Offering multiple delivery methods allows customers to choose the best option for them and ultimately increases customer satisfaction. 

Furthermore, flexible delivery removes the burden of overworked drivers by allowing customers to select the option that fits their own schedule. 

Provide Tracking Information

Last mile delivery typically presents many challenges to businesses, but one of the most effective ways to optimize this process is by offering tracking information. This lets customers track their orders, helping them stay informed on when they can expect their package.

Additionally, this can help remove the burden of communicating and answering questions about order shipments from customer service teams. 

Tracking capabilities help the flow of communication run more smoothly while reducing confusion and anxiety, ultimately improving customer satisfaction. 

Furthermore, it makes the delivery process more efficient, which means fewer errors and a better overall experience for everyone involved.

Improve Supply Chain Communication

One way to optimize the last mile delivery process is to improve communication between stakeholders in the supply chain, from suppliers to transportation vendors to customers. 

By engaging with each stakeholder during every step of the journey, all parties can communicate possible problems and solutions encountered during delivery in real-time, allowing for issues to be anticipated earlier and processes to run more efficiently. 

For instance, if a customer’s address proves difficult to locate or traffic becomes an issue, quick communication between the driver and supplier could ultimately lead to successfully navigating these challenges. 

Share Expectations

In order to make sure all ends are covered in an efficient manner, businesses should always share their expectations with staff who are handling the deliveries. Establishing clear communication between parties can help ensure all orders arrive on time and customers are kept satisfied with the service they have received. 

This may include providing in-depth training to all delivery personnel, ensuring they understand deadlines and benchmarks that must be met. 

Additionally, rewarding strong performance in meeting expectations provides a valuable incentive for employees to continue performing at a high-level for each shipment.

Use Tracking for Deliveries and Fleet

The key to success is utilizing efficient tracking technology throughout the entire process to track fleets, drivers, and trucks all the way down to the packages. Not only does this allow you to monitor the location of all items at any given time, but it also provides an up-to-date look at how delivery personnel is doing and how long packages take to reach their destinations. 

By leveraging these insights, you can make smarter decisions about routes and crew that will help minimize delays and reduce fuel costs. For instance, if a delivery vehicle breaks down, tracking vehicles allows you to send a substitute vehicle to complete the delivery. Ultimately, tracking will enable you to provide better service with less effort.

Route Optimization

In order to ensure that customers have an optimal experience, businesses should focus on optimizing each component of last mile logistics, including route optimization. Using data-driven software and analytics, businesses can use route optimization to reduce costs and save time for drivers. This is accomplished by considering traffic, weather, stores near delivery locations, and estimated arrival times. 

Route optimization allows companies to consolidate stops along a route and create the most efficient paths based on these metrics. It also allows for an effective delivery process free from delay.

last mile delivery

How Much Does Last Mile Delivery Cost?

Last mile delivery is the most expensive part of the whole process. On average, it costs around $10 to deliver a small package. So, many businesses subsidize this by taking some of the cost from their product profit margins. 

Tracking at a larger scale can bring down costs, but it will remain expensive because several factors or reasons make it costly. Keep reading to find out.

Returns, Refunds, and Discounts 

It is estimated around 20% of eCommerce purchases are returned. If these come back to be changed for a different item, then you are expected to deliver it for free. This makes cutting down on returns and refunds a top priority.

Failed Deliveries

Deliveries to the customer that fail are costly. Inevitably, the delivery needs to be redone, but it will come out of your pocket this time.

Luckily you can work toward minimizing failed deliveries by giving delivery time slots to the customer. Providing forward notification of deliveries is also something you would expect to be given, but this is not always the case.

Fuel Prices

Fuel prices are continuously on the rise. While electric cars and hybrid models are becoming available, it is taking longer to transfer to vehicles involved in last mile delivery tracking.

Business delivery also involves the use of residential and city roads. This means vehicles drive at lower average speeds and often stop and start. None of this is economical for your fuel and adds to increased costs.

Detrack was built for last mile delivery companies

Detrack is the perfect tool for businesses looking for a powerful and efficient solution to last mile delivery problems. With Detrack’s comprehensive suite of features, businesses can avoid the hassle of manually overseeing their fleet of vehicles. 

For example, Detrack has enabled Teak and Mahogany, an exclusive outdoor furniture and accessories retailer based in Singapore, to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction through real-time updates, delivery notifications, and more. 

Detrack goes beyond last-minute delivery issues by taking proactive strategies that reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction in the long run. Try Detrack Today and see how it can help improve your last mile deliveries. 

Frequently Asked Questions about last mile deliveries

Why is last mile delivery important?

Last mile delivery services is crucial because it represents the final step in the supply chain, ensuring that goods are delivered from a distribution center or fulfillment center to the end-user or customer’s doorstep. It is the last interaction a customer has with the company, making it a significant touchpoint for customer satisfaction and brand perception. 

A smooth and efficient last mile delivery can lead to increased customer loyalty and positive reviews, while a poor experience can result in customer dissatisfaction and potential loss of business.

How can we make our last mile delivery process more efficient?

Efficiency in last mile delivery can be achieved through route optimization, real-time tracking, automated sorting, dynamic scheduling, and delivery lockers. These methods streamline the process, reduce errors, and enhance convenience for both delivery personnel and customers.

What is the role of technology in last mile delivery?

Technology plays a pivotal role by offering GPS tracking, mobile apps for communication and navigation, data analytics for route optimization, drones and robotics for automation, and IoT sensors for monitoring sensitive goods’ conditions.

How can we manage customer expectations during the last mile delivery?

Customer expectations during last mile delivery can be managed by maintaining clear communication through notifications, providing flexible delivery windows, enabling real-time tracking, and having a responsive customer support system in place.

What is the difference between a last mile carrier and a final mile carrier?

The terms “last mile carrier” and “final mile carrier” are often used interchangeably and refer to companies or services involved in delivering goods to the end customer’s location. There is generally no technical distinction between the two terms. Both describe the transportation providers responsible for the last leg of the delivery journey, from a distribution center to the customer’s doorstep.

How can last mile delivery be made more sustainable?

To make last mile delivery more sustainable, consider using alternative vehicles like electric or hybrid options, employing bike and foot couriers for urban areas, establishing consolidation points for eco-friendly distribution, optimizing routes to reduce emissions, and promoting reusable packaging choices.


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