Updated on July 28th, 2022
The year 2020 has brought the whole world to a halt causing several unprecedented changes within the businesses across different verticals. The covid-19 pandemic hit even harder to the businesses that were already struggling to cope with the changing customer demands such as faster and same-day delivery. The problem doesn’t end here; the coronavirus outbreak has also brought new challenges like offering contactless delivery, enabling zero cash payments, and keeping health updates of the personnel.
To survive and thrive in the covid-hit world, businesses started to revisit their last-mile strategies and felt the necessity of shifting their traditional last-mile system to the digital realm. The outbreak has also made it clear that digitization of the last-mile processes and the overall logistics and transportation system will be the key to shape the future of e-commerce, manufacturing, food & grocery, courier & express delivery, and other industries. Let’s check out the other last mile delivery trends for 2021.
Last-mile delivery, a crucial part of logistics, deals with the final delivery of goods from the transportation hub to the final delivery destination, i.e., customers’ doorsteps. In 2021 and beyond, we are expecting the following trends to play a pivotal role in improving last mile delivery logistics.
Automation of last mile operations
The trend of automating last mile processes started to gain momentum from 2020 when the businesses were restricted to run their operations with limited manpower to avoid the risk of getting infected. The trend is anticipated to become a necessity in the upcoming time as it will not only help organizations to save cost and time but also minimize dependency on human professionals.
Faster order fulfillment
Brands like Amazon, eBay, and more have set the new benchmarks by providing next-day and even same-day deliveries. This has increased the expectations of consumers; now they want every company to expedite their shipment processes and change their models to deliver products on the same or the next day. In 2021, more businesses would pay attention to their delivery models and last mile operations to avoid getting swallowed up by the big retailers. Again, this goal can also be achieved by advancing their warehousing, inventory, and complete logistics and transportation system.
Cost reduction using analytics and forecasting
Increased logistics cost is one of the major concerns in front of businesses. In the upcoming time, more and more businesses are predicted to rely on software designed using AI, ML, and other technologies to get insights and analytics. The reports generated by such software would help SMEs and MSMEs to monitor different processes meticulously and figure out new ways to push down the overall last mile cost.
Real-time order tracking and traceability
Problems like lost packages, delay in delivery, and lack of interaction between vendor, rider, and customer lead to customer dissatisfaction. And in the upcoming times, the core focus will be on customer convenience and satisfaction. Providing them with the facility to track orders would help in overcoming these last mile challenges. It will also increase awareness of the carrier as well as contribute to minimizing disputes that might occur between the end-customer and the rider.
To meet the growing expectations of customers, micro warehousing is one of the most anticipated trends for the coming years. Micro warehousing means renting extra commercial space for the storage of goods. One warehouse can be entirely dedicated to the same-day or next-day deliveries. This would save a considerable amount of time and efforts while ensuring order fulfillment during peak times.
Delivery through driver less vehicles and drones
Deliveries using self-driving vehicles and drones are expected to create a buzz in the supply chain industry. It can enhance the last-mile delivery operations by minimizing dependency on human resources and bringing perfection in the jobs.
Hybrid fleet model
Companies are expected to adopt a hybrid fleet model to manage last-mile operations efficiently. This type of model would use in-house delivery vehicles and a fleet from third-party logistics partners. Doing this would help them to scale their last-mile operations as and when required.
Urban fulfillment centers
To facilitate quick deliveries, within hours, businesses will focus on establishing urban fulfillment centers. This model would be best for major cities; such hubs would help to deliver products such as frozen products, grocery, and more within hours. Market players such as Amazon are already providing this facility; in the upcoming time, the trend will dominate the logistics world.
In-house delivery system
Since the e-commerce industry is flourishing at an unprecedented rate, companies will own a fleet, instead of relying on 3PL partners, to meet their delivery requirements. The focus will be either on in sourcing fleet or opting for a hybrid fleet model, which has been earlier mentioned in this article. Managing the fleet efficiently and utilizing every vehicle’s capacity completely is possible with the automation of last-mile delivery operations.
Better visibility and control
Having complete visibility and control on the delivery operations can avoid unnecessary risks and overcome different delivery-related challenges. Businesses are understanding this fact and therefore, adopting smart technologies to bring transparency among the operations. The use of GPS, RFID tags, and other technologies to track the shipment movement, install sensors in the consignments to monitor their temperature, and prevent any damage will gain popularity.
We hope that these trends would help SMEs and MSMEs to get over the last-mile challenges, such as same-day delivery, manual route optimization, poor logistics visibility, reducing rate of RTO (return to origin), ramping up delivery operations, reducing delivery cost, and increasing customer satisfaction.
With the increasing demand for faster deliveries, it has become necessary for businesses to automate their last-mile operations. To meet this demand, businesses are leveraging technology platforms and integrating last-mile delivery software into their existing processes. Apart from this, trends like quick order fulfilment, sourcing in-house fleet, choosing drones and self-driving vehicles for delivery, setting up urban fulfilment centres & warehouses, and relying on analytics and insights are expected to create a buzz in the industry. Give this article a read to know these last mile delivery trends in detail.