The global e-commerce market is expected to total $4.89 trillion in 2021, according to Insider Intelligence. The e-commerce market has grown by 27.6 % in 2021 from 2020 and with it, the average density of deliveries has also increased. Due to these factors, last-mile deliveries have become more complex and challenging in 2021.
There is a need for greater efficiency in last-mile logistics operations as delivery time-frames are becoming smaller. Even a small glitch in last-mile delivery can lead to a loss of customer satisfaction and potentially impair customer relationships. Today, a plethora of hardware and software solutions exist to remedy last-mile bottlenecks, but a few technologies are critical towards maintaining a competitive edge with last-mile deliveries.
Based on insights, let’s take a look at some of the innovations that are revolutionizing last-mile deliveries today.
On-demand delivery service platforms
You’ve probably used on-demand delivery platforms if you’ve ordered from Postmates, Uber Eats, Instacart, or any number of other store-to-door delivery services. To get your things from the nearest warehouse or retail store to your front door, these new semi-decentralized delivery systems rely on enormous pools of contract-based or trip-based delivery drivers.
According to an article by the Financial Express, merely 20% of small firms in India offer online services, leaving a big chunk of the market for last-mile logistics untapped. On-demand crowdsourced delivery platforms significantly reduce their overheads while enhancing responsiveness in the last mile by harnessing much larger talent pools, which often work flexible hours and have their own vehicles.
AI route planning
UPS made a startling discovery a few years ago. Based on the data that it had gathered, the company realized that getting its drivers routed along three consecutive right turns was more time and fuel-efficient. It was better than getting them to wait to turn left at an intersection. Thanks to this small tweak of routing along consecutive right turns, allows UPS to deliver 350,000 more packages and save 10 million gallons of fuel each year, and run 1,000 fewer delivery trucks than it did prior to the discovery.
Large companies can leverage AI-optimized route planning to save on a similar scale. Even crowdsourced delivery service platforms can stand to gain from this technology. For instance, even with something as ubiquitous as google maps, its route-planning options, and real-time traffic updates can allow drives to take alternate routes to busy highways, congested roads, and even bypass tolls where necessary. AI-optimized route planning has become a necessary imperative for logistics firms.
Smart tracking technology
Find out exact information where exactly your package is in transit? What is the transit route and the last delivery touchpoint? Just some years back one had scarcely any options when it came to tracking orders through the supply chain: Few updates about the package leaving the warehouse and being dropped at the door.
The advent of the blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) means that you will have real-time visibility about the current location of your orders. An article highlights that key players in India’s supply chain landscape are working on building a technology-enabled integrated supply chain to enhance visibility and efficiency.
More opportunities are being created in intracity logistics due to the e-commerce boom and evolving customer requirements, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst, with regard to delivery and shopping. Research by KPMG highlights that same-day shipping is sought by 80 percent of the customers today. The fact is that when it comes to faster delivery, many customers are willing to pay a certain premium. Today, quick delivery has become a need rather than a choice for retailers in the digital space spurring last-mile delivery innovations.