In shipping, the last mile is the final stage of the delivery process, when a parcel goes from the distribution center to the end user, such as a business or customer. If you’ve ever tracked a package online and seen that it was “Out for Delivery” then you already have a good idea of what the last mile looks like.
The last mile only covers a short distance, but it’s an incredibly important part of the overall delivery process. Thanks to technology and consumer demands, that importance continues to grow. If you’re considering a career in dispatch, here’s why the last mile should matter to you.
The Last Mile May Not Be Long, But it Accounts for a Large Share of Shipping Costs
The last mile in shipping may be short, but it is also expensive. In fact, around 50% of the total cost to ship a parcel occurs during the last mile. There are many reasons why last mile logistics are so costly. For example, whereas a long-haul truck may be moving hundreds or thousands of parcels at once, during the last mile parcels usually are delivered to houses one by one.
Also, last mile deliveries occur on local roads, where construction and traffic are more likely to lead to delays, especially in urban areas. In rural areas, meanwhile, end users may be spread out, which can turn the last mile into potentially hundreds of kilometres. This further increases transportation and labour costs.
E-Commerce Is Making the Cost of Last Mile Logistics Harder to Ignore
As you may experience after dispatch training, consumers are increasingly demanding that shippers get parcels to them quickly, often within 24 hours. This is largely due to the rise of e-commerce, which has led to more purchases being made online and thus to greater dependency on fast and efficient shipping for everything from clothes to food.
Whereas prior to e-commerce the end user may have been a store or business with set hours, today it is just as likely to be a person who has ordered something online to be delivered to their place of residence. In those cases, the end user may not be at home to accept the parcel when it’s delivered, which means the delivery person may have to make another attempt or drop off the parcel at a pick-up point. While some parcels can be left on the doorstep, this isn’t always practical, especially for perishable items or if the recipient needs to provide a signature. These factors further drive up the cost of last mile logistics and make it difficult to reach the speedy delivery times that customers now expect.
How Dispatch Training Can Help Companies Solve the Last Mile Problem
Clearly, cutting down on the cost of last mile logistics will help companies better meet the growing demands of consumers. Many ideas have been floated about how this can be done. Using drones to deliver parcels is one solution that has caught a lot of attention, but it is far from being a viable option. Many homes, such as apartments, are difficult to impossible to deliver to with drones, and cities often have laws against their use, especially around buildings and airports.
Instead, shippers are focusing on finding more immediate ways to improve the last mile. Here your dispatcher courses can make a significant difference. Shippers need dispatchers who have the training to be able to coordinate delivery runs in as time-effective a way as possible. With your training, you could potentially help shippers cut down on the time and cost that the last mile typically consumes, which would make both your employer and its customers much happier.
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