When you order a package, a game begins. It’s expected to come in 1 to 3 days, but will it come sooner? Will it be delayed? Will it even be the right size, shape, or color? The possibilities are endless.
Luxury retailers are particularly unpredictable when it comes to delivery times, and for those fortunate enough to be able to afford such items feel that their money shouldn’t have to buy patience. The main area of trouble for these e-retailers lies in what logistics managers have aptly named “the last mile.”
The last mile, or the final stage of delivery, is simultaneously the most challenging and the most expensive leg of the journey for delivering packages. If retailers could crack the code of a perfect last mile, the efficiency could mean more savings and a far more pleasurable experience for the consumer.
In 2017, the demand for packages ordered through e-commerce site has grown exponentially. Some figures project that it has grown nearly 300 percent since 2016 alone. This is due to the fact that consumers not only want to customize orders to perfection, but also want to cut out the middleman involved with delivery.
In places like India, the problems with the last mile are completely multi-faceted. Congested roads and inefficient transportation methods are often factors that contribute to delays. Even language can be an issue, as the translation of the address from English to Tamil can sometimes be misinterpreted. On top of that, the service itself can remain ultimately unprofessional. Consumers who get calls from unofficial number are likely not to pick up, sometimes missing their package entirely.
It may seem astonishing, but in some parts of the Middle East, up to 40 percent of packages are returned to sender stating “recipient not found.”
Something making delivery even more difficult—the UN estimates that around four billion people live in locations without street names or numbers. For example, the UAE does not use postcodes , which can make same day delivery, or delivery at all insanely difficult.
In Ghana, for instance, officials have only just begun installing street signs. Though the common misconception is that these countries are simply too poor, that should not exclude them from the luxury of online delivery.
Logistics companies have received the message, and some are dedicating themselves exclusively to the last mile. Raanan Cohen, chief executive and co-founder of Chicago based Bringg, was quoted; “Retailers have an enormous opportunity to reach new locations if they create a good logistics infrastructure with the right tools, and the opportunity is simply too good to be missed.”
So will more logistics companies jump on the bandwagon? How could the world change if there were more companies specifically designated to make the last mile more efficient? If the last mile fails, then so does e-commerce. So the future of online retailing really will fall on the logistics managers for success. While the matrix is becoming more complex, more delivery channels, more rural areas, it is simply imperative to continue to improve the final step of the delivery process.