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Why last-mile delivery is a big deal

E-commerce shopping is here to stay. It’s fundamentally shaping the way consumers shop and the way they expect shipments to be delivered. Retailers and carriers are under pressure to push the boundaries in traditional shipping methods as they strive to exceed customer expectations and manage costs effectively. Here are three trends that are revolutionizing the last-mile delivery landscape.

Automation in the supply chain

With the implementation of self-driving vehicles, drones and robots we can confidently say the future has arrived. DHL recently announced its plans to test self-driving delivery vehicles in 2018. Big e-commerce retailers are deploying drone trials across countries. Amazon plans to deliver customers’ orders within 30 minutes through its Prime Air delivery program, which exceeds its two-day Prime shipping and two-hour Prime Now deliveries. Warehouses have turned to robots to decrease the amount of material handling in the supply chain, boost the order fulfillment process and increase efficiency.

Learn more: DHL to test self-driving trucks next year

When it comes to delivery options, the more the merrier

Retailers and carriers are creating unique solutions to solve the last-mile delivery obstacle. Amazon has introduced both Amazon Locker and Amazon Hub to offer centralized locations for picking up packages. These delivery strategies offer Amazon more control over how packages arrive with customers, reduce the costs of shipping and give Amazon the edge over its competitors. The large big box stores normally offer two-day delivery for a minimum order, but Amazon is offering two-hour delivery. They announced Wednesday the launch of their Amazon Key service next month. Once Prime members purchase and install the smart lock and camera the technology would allow delivery people to walk into your home and drop off a box when you’re not there.

Delivering packages to individual residential addresses is more costly than delivering to a business. Often the recipient isn’t home and the carrier is having to make multiple stops instead of one bulk drop off. As a result, carriers like UPS and FedEx have tapped the shoulder of USPS to perform last-mile delivery. USPS already visits nearly every residential address in the United States to deliver mail which is one of the reasons why this hybrid shipping model was implemented. There’s less cost for USPS to deliver small packages to residences which are most likely on their regular route already. Now, Amazon is going the extra mile in the last mile to deliver beyond the doorstep.

Learn more: Is FedEx SmartPost the option for me?

Insourcing deliveries

Retailers are opting to keep shipping in-house in an effort to win the last-mile delivery race. Walmart recently shared it has begun testing using store employees to make last-mile deliveries for online orders in select markets to rival competitors like Amazon. Amazon has rolled out its Amazon Flex delivery program in select markets which invite the average Joe to deliver packages in their unmarked vehicles as long as they can make it within the specific delivery-time window. In addition, there’s talk of an Amazon Seller Flex program that would help Amazon oversee pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants selling goods on Amazon.com and their delivery to customers’ homes.

Learn more: Soon Amazon may be delivering your product directly

The world in which we do business in today is a dramatically different place compared to just 10 years ago due to the evolving technology solutions. Businesses that move fast need shipping solutions that can keep up. Last-mile delivery revolves around small packages. Pairing Share a Refund parcel auditing service with your existing operations can help shrink costs, capture critical data to understand supply chain and improve overall efficiency.

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