Last Mile Delivery Explained

Solving the biggest logistical challenge yet

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When it comes to e-commerce, speed and dependability are the name of the game. Businesses need to get their products into customers’ hands quickly. But, shipping items all around the world is no small task, and the most challenging section of the supply chain is the “last mile.” 

Learn about the logistics of last mile delivery, its biggest challenges, and the best way to optimize the last mile of your company’s delivery routes - increasing sales, cutting costs, and saving plenty of headaches.

What is last mile delivery?

Last mile delivery is the final section of the delivery process–when a package arrives at a customer’s door. It is the most expensive part of the shipping process - accounting for 53% of the total shipping cost.

Why is last mile delivery important?

The last mile of a delivery chain is the most expensive, but also the most important section. This is where your customers are - and it’s where you need to ensure they are satisfied.

Optimized last-mile delivery boosts customer satisfaction by…

  • Consistently delivering orders to the right address
  • Increasing delivery speed
  • Providing real-time visibility into delivery status

What is the last mile problem?

Simply put, it's the difficulty of getting a package from its point of origin to its destination without any problems or damage occurring. The last mile delivery problem is one that many companies are looking to solve, and more so now that customer expectations and behaviors have changed notably in the last few years. There has been a continuous rise in e-commerce activity which has substantially increased the volume of goods to be transported. At the same time, customer expectations have evolved to include fast, if not free, delivery. 

Current last mile delivery solutions are not sustainable. The increasing number of delivery vehicles and the complexity of roads cause an increase in fuel consumption, congestion, and noise, along with other inefficiencies due to the nature of the delivery process.

Most might think that there is still no efficient solution to this problem, but it can be solved with the right technology and logistics.

How to Improve Last-Mile Logistics and Satisfy More Customers

Gone are the days when drivers needed to know every street and alleyway in the city. With advanced mapping technology, businesses can improve last-mile shipping, cut costs, and provide fast and dependable delivery.

Find the Ideal Location

Location makes all the difference for efficient deliveries. This is where dark stores come into the picture–micro-warehouses designed exclusively for order fulfillment and located in close proximity to high-demand areas. By carefully planning your distribution strategy and placing them in areas closer to customers, last mile delivery costs are significantly reduced. You can easily cater to rising on-demand delivery expectations from customers and start delivering orders in as little as 10 minutes.

Optimize Routing and Mapping

Route optimization. It’s the best answer to the “traveling salesman problem,” regarding the ideal route from place to place. With a route planner app, businesses can input different variables such as delivery windows, product specifications, and vehicle types. All the information is used to create the ideal route, sequence, and boundaries needed for managing your fleet and delivery operations. An integrated mobile and web application platform for optimizing delivery operations is essential for saving time and fuel on deliveries.

Improve your Dispatching Process

With the right technology, you can quickly match drivers with orders, accounting for order constraints and unpredictable conditions including traffic patterns. Improving the dispatching process eases the strain on both drivers and businesses. By calculating travel times between several locations with something as simple as a single API request, you can find the best driver for every delivery and easily scale according to your fleet. Adopting logistics technology with these capabilities is a must for delivery companies that dispatch drivers on-demand. It ensures that customers are receiving their orders as fast as possible while making the most of the driver's time spent on the road.

Enhance Driver Navigation

With in-vehicle navigation, drivers can be certain that the route they’re on is the best possible choice–whether that be in a car, bike, scooter, or other chosen vehicle. In-app turn-by-turn navigation allows drivers to navigate to each destination and mark them as complete or missed without having to switch back and forth between apps. It also ensures that the navigation system uses up-to-date data to provide live traffic information and warn of any hazards that might cause a delay.

Keep Customers Informed

As a result of our data-driven world, customers want to check the status of their delivery through every stage until it arrives on their doorstep. Real-time tracking and communication are essential, including accurate ETAs and delivery window notifications to reduce failed deliveries and provide transparency. 

You’ll want software and technology that easily embeds compelling maps into your webpage or app and provides the needed visibility into each step of the delivery process that is crucial for ensuring customer loyalty. 

Stay Ahead of the Pack (and the Packages)

Delivery expectations are rising among customers. If your deliveries are late, you lose both customers and profit. A market report by Technavio estimates that the last mile delivery market will grow by nearly 150 billion dollars between 2021 and 2025. To keep up with the evolution of delivery, turn to Mapbox Logistics for easy-to-use solutions. Mapbox’s latest technology will help you deliver on time and boost your customers’ satisfaction, loyalty, and lifetime value.

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Frequently asked questions

How do you design a distribution network?

Plan your distribution strategy based on where your potential customers are located. Use Mapbox Movement Data to get up-to-date insights on where people are moving most. Once you have a location, use our Isochrones API to understand your reach and identify any gaps.

How do you dispatch efficiently?

Find the ideal driver for each delivery. Our Matrix API returns travel times between many different points at once. You can leverage this to know which drivers can make it to a given location the fastest. Using the Optimization API, you can also batch orders efficiently and drop them off in the best order based on given conditions.

How do I deliver on time?

Get a navigation app built specifically for delivery drivers. Mapbox Fleet is an app that features logistics-first maps, in-app navigation, route optimization, driver notes, and offline navigation mode. As a fleet operator, you’ll also have access to a powerful web dashboard to optimize for the best delivery order and track drivers in real time.

How do I protect my vehicles and drivers?

Safeguard your most valuable assets with real-time visibility, to ensure your fleet is running as safely and efficient as possible. Not only can you monitor performance with live driver tracking through Mapbox Fleet, but you can also keep drivers safe with Mapbox Vision–our edge AI technology that acts as a second set of eyes to track road and driver activity.

How do I delight my customers?

Exceed customer expectations by making checkout quick and easy, keeping customers informed about delivery status, and making deliveries as promised. With Address Autofill you can dramatically reduce the number of keystrokes needed to accurately fill out an address — especially on small mobile devices. Once an order is placed, provide updates and visibility every step of the way using Mapbox GL JS and our Maps SDK.