Everybody knows the last mile delivery truck.
It might be brown, yellow or white, but all of these trucks do the same job: they make last mile deliveries possible. Everybody knows those trucks, but do you really know how important they are to the entire supply chain? If it weren’t for those trucks, the story behind your order fulfillment would be a very different one.
What is the Last Mile and Why Does It Matter?
The last mile is logistics lingo for the last trip a package makes on its way to a customer. It’s the trip that your package takes from the postal hub to your house. Some services handle packages with little flair, banking instead on efficiency. Others roll out the red carpet, this is especially common with high-end furniture.
That last mile, though, is troublesome for retailers because it can be so incredibly expensive. There’s a balance to be had between fast services and cost that is very hard to achieve for some companies.
But they keep at it because the Last Mile is the most important one, for reasons like:
- It affects speed to the customer. The Last Mile can literally determine when your customers get their packages. Do you want the brown truck to sort that package into the two day airmail bucket or the ground shipping bucket? When an entire industry is doing its best to keep up with online retail giants, every minute counts.
- It allows vendors to maintain smaller inventories. When you hold too much of anything in inventory, you’ll reach a point where you simply can’t sell any more without doing it at a loss.Vendor-managed inventory, lean inventory control made possible by last mile shipping from the supplier to the warehouse, can keep more money in your pocket. It also helps reduce waste, so that’s pretty nice.
- It ensures that specialty deliveries like medicines arrive in pristine condition. Dealing with delicate orders that expire or are extremely fragile like medication means getting orders out the door and into the customer’s hand as quickly as you can. Last Mile determines whether or not this is successfully achieved. Mistakes like leaving meds at the wrong address, for example, can be disastrous.
There’s a lot of attention paid to the big shipments, moved by huge trucks, trains and even giant freighters while the tiny last milers, unfortunately, slip through neighborhoods almost unnoticed. If it wasn’t for them, though, concepts like the agile supply chain and even same day delivery would be impossible. Both of these are just scratching the surface of what a Last Mile delivery does well and why it matters so much.