The expectations within the consumer market are pushing the envelope within last-mile delivery.
In the world of logistics, last-mile delivery has long been a familiar term for analysts and industry insiders. But thanks to Amazon, a once sequestered word, reserved only for logistics insiders, has now become a front-burner issue.
Granted, not every consumer is familiar with the term or may even speak of last-mile logistics. But the inescapable fact is that the last-mile experience that has come to nearly every home in America, and this consumer experience is reshaping the expectations within the business world.
From Door Dash to Uber, the business-to-consumer experience has raised the bar. The net effect is that business owners are expecting their shipping and delivery companies to provide the same caliber of expertise.
Because of this, several commonplace trends in the consumer market are pushing the envelope within the business marketplace and affecting last-mile delivery.
(1) We Want It Faster
Expectations are everything.On-demand and same-day delivery are now the standard expectation in the restaurant, grocery, and pharmacy delivery. By the time the order comes in, vendors must process, stage, and ship within a very narrow window.
While these tight margins are unrealistic outside of the consumer-driven industry, they still play a part in shaping expectations within B2B solutions.
(2) The Rise of the Gig Economy
Take a quick survey of the amount of venture capital flowing into the last-mile and urban logistics and you will find a steady rise in the gig economy and crowdsourcing apps.
Companies like UberRUSH for parcels, Postmates, Deliv, and even Amazon Flex provide spot-market deliveries by independent drivers. These companies have built an entire revenue stream by posting delivery jobs on their apps to alert drivers to available gigs and using a creative last-mile logistics strategy.
While enterprise delivery solutions do not have an immediate crossover application, there is no doubt the model is changing.
(3) Show Don’t Tell
Traceability and proof of delivery information have long been a standard expectation within delivery management. But smartphone apps have revolutionized the process, and consumers have come to expect the ability to have real-time tracking of their purchases and deliveries.
Knowing ETAs down to the minute and live GPS mapping are becoming more and more common in food delivery applications. The challenge for many B2B industries is that consumers are watching their enterprise apps play catch-up to their everyday consumer delivery apps. Granted, there are more moving pieces to most enterprise applications, and the level of complexity doesn’t always allow for the same real-time tracking. But there is no escaping the fact that expectations have shifted. Last-mile must become more immediate and visual in its tracking.
(4) Old Dogs Are Learning New Tricks
Legacy carriers like the Postal Service (USPS) are even changing with the times and adapting shifting delivery trends. Because of the declines in mail delivery, the increase in e-commerce deliveries is a welcomed boost.
Adding a parcel to home delivery is only an incremental cost to the USPS since the carrier is going to the house anyway. It’s more expensive for UPS or FedEx to make that same delivery since it’s an independent stop.
Again, this sort of shift shows how standard practices within enterprise delivery must adapt to handle the new norms within last-mile delivery.
(5) Smart Sensors With Smart Visibility
In addition to wanting visibility at each point in the fulfillment and delivery process, customers also want to track temperature-sensitive items. Industry analysts are reporting that many clients are putting temperature probes or other smart sensors in packages themselves.
This sort of technology allows a pharmaceutical company, frozen food producer, or plant distributer to know the temperature, humidity, and other environmental data along the shipment route. This sort of data can provide additional guarantees of freshness and shipping care.
The Future is Now
Whether or not sensors, AI, and more intuitive smartphone apps drive the future of last-mile logistics, time will tell. However, these five trends show industry leaders throughout the supply chain are actively trying to perfect the last mile to keep up with more extraordinary consumer demands.
These consumer trends may not reflect enterprise realities, but they certainly are shaping expectations.