This report looks at the problems associated with the most inefficient leg of the delivery process – often referred to as the “last mile” – and examines the key trends and challenges impacting the delivery market. It identifies the novel commercial mobility modes being utilised, such as app-based crowdsourcing and electric cargo bicycles, and uses case studies to showcase specific examples of companies employing new commercial mobility modes to improve the overall delivery process.
The last mile describes the movement of shipments from a sorting centre to the final customer. This is the most inefficient part of the delivery supply chain, and is estimated to account for up to 28% of the total shipment cost.
Numerous issues are making deliveries more challenging. City centre vehicle restrictions on highly polluting vehicles are reducing access to households and businesses; meanwhile customers are increasingly demanding free delivery, requiring firms to improve the efficiency of last mile delivery.
Commercial mobility needs to become more sustainable through reduced fossil fuel energy use. Electric vans, bicycles and route optimisation systems can reduce overall emissions, leading to a cleaner urban environment.
The use of electric vehicles for commercial deliveries is slowly catching on, with major logistics firms including FedEx and DHL adding electric vans to their delivery fleets. However, for full take-up to occur, issues such as range, cost and charge point availability need to be better addressed.
Autonomous delivery vans, drones and droids can potentially offer a solution to last mile delivery by helping to reduce costs, while improving the pace of delivery. However, further technological advances are needed in AI, while regulatory compliance also remains a hurdle.
The differing characteristics of various cities – population density, labour costs and affluence – can influence the most appropriate delivery mode. For instance, drone deliveries would work best in cities which are less dense.
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