Last mile logistics is one of the most important, delicate and expensive parts of the distribution process. However, it is very frequent that it is not sufficiently taken into account or that it is simply included in the shipping process, without paying the necessary attention to it. Why treat a party that has so much influence on our results like this?
Understanding last mile logistics
Cerasis, a company specializing in logistics software, has published a study in which it discusses the challenges, characteristics and keys of the last mile. According to said report, up to 28% of the cost of a shipment can be due to the last mile. That is, to the final part of the delivery process of a shipment.
It is important not to be confused by the name. Although we know this part of the distribution as the last mile, its radius can cover greater distances, from 50 to 100 kilometers. This is the case, for example, of a transport company in Madrid like ours, which carries out last-mile distribution throughout the Community of Madrid.
Another feature of the last mile is that it is often the most troublesome part of delivery. While trailers that make long-distance journeys tend to spend most of their time on comfortable sections such as highways and highways, last-mile vehicles deal with traffic jams in urban centers, access restrictions and hours to certain areas of the cities etc This also makes them especially sensitive to fuel costs, since their driving is less efficient when they spend more time in low gears or have more stops and starts. These are some of the reasons why its cost is comparatively much higher in relation to the kilometers that are made for its delivery.
New challenges of the last mile
E-commerce is making last-mile logistics gain importance, but it is also making it face new challenges. This is the case of the introduction of new types of products that were not previously sold through ecommerce and that are making the leap to these platforms. This means having to deal with new measurements and weights that make deliveries more complex. Even sometimes having to count on the presence of specialized installers. Managing these new situations is a challenge for both the sender and the logistics operators.
To this we must add other phenomena, such as the growing restrictions on access to cities, the new types of ultra-urgent deliveries, the increasingly extensive delivery schedules to meet the needs of individuals or businesses, etc.
Keys to improve the last mile
The Cerasis report proposes a series of keys for loading companies to improve the results of their last mile:
Prioritize planning and establish standard operating procedures.
Introduce the right technology as part of your strategy. Emphasizing adopting technology that is simple so that we can use it 100%, instead of opting for very complex technology that we do not know how to take advantage of.
Analyze “everything”. The first step to be able to make decisions is to know the reality of what is happening in our last-mile logistics.
Control the last mile. Added to the above, we need to know what happens in our last mile in real time. If in the relationship with our logistics operator we suffer a “blackout” in traceability and last mile information, it will be difficult for us to improve it and find out its possible weak points.
Put the customer in the center. The vast majority of advances in last-mile logistics have the customer as the main protagonist. The development of convenience points is a good example, with the incorporation of smart lockers, the implementation of networks in which to collect shipments closer to home, with longer hours and, in short, with anything that can improve the customer experience.