Last mile delivery has always been the most challenging and expensive stage in the delivery cycle, yet the current standards no longer sustain the economic and environmental needs of the industry. The increasing demand for better and more extensive delivery experience has created ripple effects throughout the mobility industry. Delivery trucks congest the air and the roads, emitting CO2 and taking up space, and failure to provide consumers with flexible delivery methods often results in negative delivery experience.
Consumers’ demand for ease and flexibility drives innovation throughout all stages of the supply chain. Responsive websites provide customers with access to digital marketplaces 24/7, and features like smart tracking help consumers keep an eye on their order through every stage of the delivery.
This article will examine the possible solutions for creating a better last-mile delivery infrastructure.
Trend #1: Outsource It - Third Party Delivery
Third-party delivery companies offer a variety of services. From all-inclusive solutions that handle the entire supply chain for the retailer, to dedicated solutions such as smart tracking, and on-demand delivery services. Outsourcing delivery services can enable businesses to achieve growth without incurring high overhead expenses.
For restaurants, third-party delivery platforms can drive sales by increasing their distribution area. For retailers, especially online-centric companies, third-party delivery services can mean the difference between meeting the consumer’s delivery expectations and losing clients as they provide an infrastructure that delivers to consumers the fast, efficient, and flexible delivery they have grown to expect in the digital era.
Trend #2: Drive Recurring Revenue - Subscription Purchase Plans
While the subscription model is not new, it has been steadily rising in popularity due to technological advancements. Companies like Netflix and Spotify provide user-friendly platforms that help users consume music and entertainment on a budget. The successful implementation of subscription plans for online tools and assets has encouraged companies to try to apply this payment model to other markets.
The subscription model in e-commerce market has seen a steep increase during the past six years. Capital investments injected retail startups with the means to apply the subscription models to physical products rather than solely digital platforms. Companies like Amazon already established their own subscription models, offering Amazon Prime subscribers to save on recurring purchases. Loot Crate provides subscribers with a monthly delivery of geek boxes for gamers and nerds.
Trend #3: Data Analysis Enables Smart Tracking and Delivery
As supply chains become more technological, companies gain access to large amounts of data streaming from a multitude of devices and sources that were previously inaccessible in a digital format. However, access does not automatically translate into efficient and effective collection, monitoring, management, and analysis. Data storage and visualization tools promote real-time response, cost-effective improvements, and long-term strategies.
Data analytics can integrate with automation to provide intelligent tools such as smart tracking and delivery route optimization. The route optimization system uses real-time traffic and weather conditions data to provide drivers with automated alerts that promote fast and efficient delivery, while the smart tracking feature creates transparency throughout all stages of the delivery.
Trend #4: Blockchain, and AI to Improve Logistics
Efficient connectivity is key to creating a cohesive supply chain. However, the complexity of the logistics sector and the number of components involved in the chain poses challenges in integration. Two technologies are set to improve this area and help create stronger links in the supply chain—blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Blockchain technology provides a secure and transparent record-keeping framework for logging data. Improving data records is a step towards creating big data resources that can fuel machine learning (ML) and AI solutions to eliminate inefficiencies through every stage of the delivery journey. ML and AI can digest big amounts of data, analyze, and provide logistics solutions and increase revenue and efficiency.
Trend #5: Delivery by Self Driving Cars, Robots & Drones
While autonomous cars, bots, and drones are still in the early stages, these technologies are regarded as the future of mobility.
Self-driving technology is expected to help make the last mile-delivery more efficient. Truck platooning, for example, is based on autonomous and connectivity features. In a truck platoon, a group of semi-autonomous trucks navigates the road together. The trucks are equipped with smart devices and sensors that help them monitor their surrounding. The trucks follow a leading truck in an organized pattern, and use sensors and communication networks to optimize their delivery route in accordance with route conditions.
Companies like Amazon are experimenting with delivery drones and autonomous and driverless vehicles to deliver a variety of goods. Delivery drones have flying capabilities and can take off from a warehouse and land at the customer’s house. While the drones are designed to handle difficult weather conditions. It should be noted that most of these solutions don’t have long journey capabilities yet.
Delivery robots have self-driving features that help them navigate urban environments. They can be used to deliver parcels, envelopes, and food. Companies like Postmates and Yelp Eat24, have already begun experimenting with Personal Delivery Robotic Devices (PDDs) for food delivery. Soon enough, the next knock on your door might be from a delivery bot.
How Smart Delivery Will Impact Mobility
“Today’s fast-delivery system is set up for customer convenience, not for the city’s transportation system or even overall efficiency.” The Wired
The rising trends are geared to solving two critical last-mile delivery problems—high operational costs and lack of efficiency. With the help of innovative technologies, companies can reduce the scale of last-mile delivery. Mobility from A to B is no longer just about people. Digitization help connect modes of transport, create new and improved mode of mobility, and chart efficient routes.