Why Last-Mile Delivery Should Be Your First Priority

Highway sign reading "One Mile"

The term “last mile” refers to the final leg of a delivery. This is typically when something ordered from a retail store is moved from a warehouse or sorting facility to its buyer. Supply chain experts say it’s the most important part of a delivery because it’s often the most complex and most expensive. The last mile is also where a customer is more likely to interact with someone, usually a carrier who hands them their order or leaves it at their door. Get the last mile wrong and you’re likely to lose business.

So why are so many retailers struggling with last-mile delivery?

Well, since the pandemic began in 2020, there has been an increased demand for last-mile delivery. In many areas of the country, there are more packages to deliver than there are drivers to deliver them. But even before the boom in online shopping, final mile delivery was seen as inefficient and a hard puzzle to solve. There are a few reasons why.

One of the biggest reasons is a lack of transparency. Retailers, and more importantly buyers, want to know where their orders are and when they will be delivered. This becomes even more critical when an order requires a signature, as is the case with vape products or high-dollar items. Making sure your last-mile delivery process includes tracking and proof of delivery is key.

Cost is another big factor in the final mile of a delivery. More than 25% of the delivery cost can be attributed to the last mile. This is because the last mile requires more labor, more fuel, more time and more operational understanding than any other part of the shipping process. Things like weather, traffic or bottlenecks at a port of entry can produce a ripple effect that slows down the final leg of a delivery.

Big, national carriers like FedEx and UPS, often increase their rates or limit the number of parcels they’ll deliver during peak shopping seasons. This drives up prices, causes delays and frustrates buyers.

Express Courier to the Rescue

More and more companies are turning to regional carriers for last-mile delivery. That’s because regional carriers are smaller and more nimble. They offer expertise by knowing a certain market and can pull from a network of drivers to get orders delivered faster, and often cheaper, than the big national carriers. Express Courier is the premier delivery partner in the Southeast, covering eight states with 26 branches. In business since 1984, Express Courier offers businesses more flexibility when it comes to deliveries, and the technology companies need to track packages and ensure efficient service.

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