last mile logistics

As the role of online and physical stores come together, customer journeys are becoming increasingly complex. As such, supply chains have needed to become progressively more sophisticated to ensure efficiency.

Shoppers now demand that online orders are traceable, time allocated, and delivered to a place they choose – home or out of home. Meanwhile, retailers need returns to be tracked and integrated back for resale as quickly as possible.

For retailers, last mile logistics incur the highest single cost for fulfillment. As the volume of home deliveries continues to ramp up, retailers will need to increasingly rely on technology to optimize the efficiency of deliveries and must remain open to partnerships to improve both capacity and capabilities – both of which are highly capital-intensive.

Optimize last mile logistics with ‘out of home’

Delivery preferences are changing and the popularity of ‘out of home’ delivery is on the rise. Our Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2023 found that over a third (34%) of consumers would happily switch to parcel lockers or click-and-collect services for their online orders. This is a rise from 25%, which was found in the previous edition of our Benchmark report. Retailers must explore and promote alternative methods of delivery so networks can keep up.

‘Out of home’ delivery presents a more efficient alternative. Methods like lockers, PUDOs, and in-store pickup offer a more flexible and secure collection method, helping to increase first-time delivery rates. Not only does that lower delivery costs, but it can also reduce expensive customer contact.

Even better news, the same report has shown that 4 in 5 (79%) shoppers value having ‘green’ delivery options when ordering online.  Consolidating deliveries from multiple online orders to just one ‘out of home’ location can reduce emissions by cutting down the number of deliveries to individual homes.

Lean on partnerships

As retail leaders look to build scale to efficiently service online orders and increase market share, they will have to decide whether to invest and build capacity in-house or look externally. Sharing the load with third parties is a strategy we’re seeing increasingly in the marketplace. Even established online pioneers lean on a range of partners for additional flexibility and capacity (e.g. Asos partnering with Clipper Logistics to handle returns across Europe).

Legacy retailers struggling with investment are likely to require ‘piggybacking’ off existing infrastructure and expertise as consumers shift online. This includes partnerships with other retailers (e.g. shop-in-shops, and between online-only and store-based retailers), and third-party logistics providers in mutually beneficial arrangements. (e.g. fashion retailers Gap and Reiss recently partnered with Next, the clothing retailer, to leverage its ecommerce and logistics capabilities in the UK).

Lower ‘cost to serve’ with shipping rules

Last mile logistics are not only complex, but they are also notoriously expensive. With the right technology, retailers can optimize, and lower the cost, of this stage.

For example, shipping rules can help retailers automatically select the correct delivery service to meet customers’ needs at the best price. Metapack’s own shipping software checks and validates each service against the factors you tell it to, like delivery date, delivery type, warehouse cut-off times, size and weight, and price.

After the right service is selected, a carrier label that complies is generated in less than 300 milliseconds – much faster than competitor platforms.

Last mile delivery is becoming increasingly complex, however with the right tools and strategies, retailers can optimize this crucial stage while providing a more flexible customer experience.

Discover how Metapack’s shipping software can help you lower the cost of final mile delivery.