The last mile of logistics is coming into view as one of the most important steps in the transportation process to improve the customer experience and meet the demand of expectations that have grown as more companies use their logistics efficiency as a competitive advantage. However, the last mile continues to be rife with risk and significant challenges. Unfortunately, the strong growth of the last mile will only highlight these challenges.
As reported by BusinessWire, “The market vendors should focus more on the growth prospects in the fast-growing segments while maintaining their positions in the slow-growing segments. As the markets recover, Technavio expects the last mile delivery market in North America size to grow by USD 59.81 billion during the period 2021-2025.”
Furthermore, shippers and logistics service providers (LSPs) need to understand the top challenges of last mile and how using a transportation management system (TMS) for optimization can help overcome them.
Last Mile Includes 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 of the newer engines are designed to start and shut off automatically to help 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
Tracking Real-Time Truck Location and Maintaining Clear, Consistent Communications Can Be Difficult
Other challenges within the last mile 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 that 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.
Stop Losing Money in the Last Step of Logistics by Leveraging an Enterprise-Class TMS Today
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.