The last mile of logistics is one of the most important steps in the transportation process when it comes to customer experience. However, last mile challenges continue to drive cost and risk.
In spite of the chances of peril, more companies use their logistics efficiency as a competitive advantage – especially as demand expands for last mile service.
As reported by BusinessWire, “Technavio expects the last mile delivery market in North America size to grow by $59.81 billion during the period 2021-2025.”
As a result, shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) need to understand the top last mile challenges and how using a transportation management system (TMS) for optimization overcomes those challenges.
Last Mile Services Include More Stop-and-Go Moves
A critical issue with last mile derives from its stop-and-go nature.
Consider that stop-and-go traffic will result in added fuel expenses. Many newer engines are designed to start and shut off automatically to reduce fuel consumption costs. However, last mile will always maintain this degree of stop-and-go traffic. And with older vehicles still on the roads, this will continue to be an issue.
Last Mile Is More Subject to Traffic Constraints and Problems With Route Optimization
On the topic of traffic, the last mile is also subject to traffic constraints and problems with route optimization.
After all, the route can be incredibly complex and trail through neighborhoods that lack logic in their design. That can be complicated to manage for everyday shippers.
Also, some streets may be inaccessible by current delivery vehicles, especially in rural areas.
The Nature of Last Mile Means an Increased Risk for Damage During Handling
There’s another factor to consider within the last, final stage of delivery: increased stop-and-go moves will result in an increased risk for damage during handling. In other words, last mile results in additional touchpoints that could result in dropping a package, damaging contents, or even further issues.
Last Mile Also Carries a Risk for Person-to-Person Contact
The last mile has also evolved in response to the pandemic because it carries a risk for person-to-person interactions and contact.
That is why more organizations have turned to contactless delivery experiences, eliminating the hassle of a physical signature or even allowing customers to sign the proof of delivery electronically on their own devices.
Tracking Real-Time Truck Location and Maintaining Clear, Consistent Communications Can Be Difficult
Other last mile challenges include tracking real-time truck location, which has improved thanks to GPS and ELD connections. However, it is not always possible to maintain a precise, consistent degree of communication.
Some areas lack connectivity or service, so the last mile can lack visibility in this respect.
Again, the trick is to automate that process, sharing information in real-time where possible and knowing when a truck may be out of reach due to limited signal or connections.
Solve Last Mile Challenges and Stop Losing Money in the Last Stage of Logistics
Each of the above issues is problematic individually. However, considering these issues at the onset of freight tendering and planning the whole shipment lifecycle is the burden of a TMS.
A world-class TMS should be able to account for these issues, prioritize the overall flow of goods, take advantage of multimodal optimization, and bring last-mile costs under control.