Last Mile Delivery – Transforming the Last Leg in Logistics (Part 1)

The trends and technologies helping supply chains go the extra mile…

Online shopping, same-day delivery and new business models have raised consumer expectations of delivery services to unprecedented heights; triggering a race to meet customer demands for a faster, more efficient and reliable experience.

Last Mile Delivery

Originally a term used in telecommunications, the last mile has become synonymous with supply chains and the final stages of the transportation of goods, specifically it covers the journey from distribution center to your front door.

Fraught with obstacles like urban infrastructure, unforeseen changes during the journey, insufficient and/or incomplete data and human error, the last mile is deeply inefficient and costly. A final act in desperate need of new ideas.

Attempts to improve the process are nothing new, but unlike previous endeavours, we now have a distinct advantage – technology has caught up with our aspirations.

Here’s the latest from the supply chains trying to redefine the last mile…

Address Cleansing

One of the costliest failures of the last mile is the result of one of the simplest things to get right – getting the correct address in the first place.

This can come from a customer mistake, poor communication or an error in administration. All possible, and indeed probable offenses that can easily be corrected at the very beginning of the process.

Avoid the costs of a failed delivery through customer communication, and by cross checking that the information provided is correct.

Customer Communication

Create a relationship with the customer.

Let them decide the time of the delivery, and keep them in the loop with the driver’s journey. Live updates will relax the customer, and make them more susceptible to changes or delays should they occur; again reducing the risk of a failed delivery.

Increased Visibility

With the right technology you can track a delivery throughout the entire supply chain.

Real-time tracking from loading to proof-of-delivery helps you understand, adapt and improve your delivery service. Ultimately, you promote greater customer satisfaction.

Smart Delivery

Order Tracking

In addition to increased visibility, the emergence of ‘smart cities’ and ‘IoT’ technology has given hope to the logistics industry.

This connected, smart urban environment could provide a wide range of beneficial data to transportation networks including traffic flow reports, restrictions, events, unexpected disruption and environmental factors.

A wealth of information that would influence schedule planning, streamlining and the management of deliveries; drastically reducing journey times and costs.

Premise-level geocoding

‘Premise-level geocoding’ arms your courier with incredibly detailed co-ordinates for all delivery locations. A degree of clarity that can provide a fool-proof map to the right building, floor, flat and door.  Premise level geocoding can save around 30 seconds per drop, per van, per shift which equates to 50 hours of capacity or 4 vans and 10 driver shifts (based on 0.5 minutes x 2,000 vans x 3 shifts).

Location Intelligence

Address or location analytics will give you invaluable information for planning the delivery.

For example, knowing that you’re delivering to a detached, semi-detached, terraced or self-contained flat is essential to determine how many people are needed for the job, the state of parking and what obstacles need to be overcome e.g. stairs.

Street-level mapping (Open Source, Closed Source and Cloud)

Street Level MapUnderstand the source of your map data. For example how up-to-date is the map, what area does it cover and to what level of detail. So, what are you choices?

Open Source
Open source data including mapping is now a ubiquitous fixture in the business landscape, and using a free data source can seem a jolly good idea when faced with budgetary cuts or pressure to get more from your allocated budget – However, free at source may not equate to free use in your business.

How truly routable is the data? Do you, for example, need to create new fields to work with your optimisation system? What guarantees do you have if it ‘goes wrong’, and who ensures version management? When licensing from a supplier, all of this is taken care of and you are supported technically, allowing for great overall peace of mind.

We ourselves use Open Source data. However we apply sophisticated routines to fix errors, create new fields and make these maps fully routable for various software systems in a range of formats and structures.

Closed Source
Closed Source mapping is still the most commonly used, with its ISO standards, large R&D budgets and rigorous testing.

Access to cloud based mapping as Software as a Service (SaaS) via APIs is a growing requirement with businesses looking to outsource time and distance matrices to cloud services utilising road speed data by time of day, day of week, live traffic, truck width, weight and height attributes as well as HAZMAT requirements.

This is backed up with the ability to undertake live ETAs (estimated time of arrivals) based on current vehicle locations and destination location with a Live Traffic feed.

Next time: Robots, drones and ‘last metre’ delivery…


For more information about the last mile or how location data can help your business, call us today on +44(0)20 8568 7000 or email


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