The Last Mile: What It Is and Why It Is Important in Logistics

When a product is purchased online, transport involves many phases. Thus, from the moment it is picked up from the warehouse until it reaches the final customer, it has to go through numerous processes and routes, for which it is necessary to act quickly.

Aplicación Senda para mostrar la última milla en envíos

Not in vain, the delivery time of the products is increasingly reduced and the customer is increasingly demanding in its compliance. All this makes the logistics of a business is perfectly studied and optimized to the maximum.

Precisely, in this article we are going to analyse one of the critical points in the delivery of packages. The so-called last mile. Here, we will see what it is, why it is so important for the logistics sector and the keys to optimizing it properly.

What's the last mile?

The last mile, which is also known as capillary distribution, is a package transport management focused on the last route to be made for the final delivery. In other words, it usually corresponds to the route that is made once a series of packages have been grouped and then distributed in the city.

Hence, it refers to the last mile because it is the last route that delivers the product directly to the customer or capillary distribution because within the city deliveries are made in different areas or ramifications.

Importance of the last mile in logistics

The challenge of the last mile for a company is double. On the one hand, it aims to satisfy the deliveries in the shortest time. On the other hand, to adjust the costs, both in personnel and in transport.

At this point is precisely where there is the biggest problem for transport and logistics companies. Bringing a large set of packages to a point close to the final delivery is easy. A truck is filled with pallets and transported. So far, there is no major complication.

However, in the last mile a more detailed distribution is made. It is done in many more vehicles and has other external factors, such as traffic, within the city.

In other words, working with smaller volumes, it is much more difficult to calculate the costs involved in this type of delivery. In addition, it is a cost that today is usually applied to the supplier of the product, since the end user has become accustomed to "free delivery".

In addition, the e-commerce sector is advancing by leaps and bounds, so the study of its profitability and correct implementation is changing in a forced way, sometimes having to make decisions "blind", with their corresponding risks.

Keys to optimize the last mile

Faced with this problem presented to logistics providers, there are different keys to optimizing the last mile or managing this delivery process more efficiently, as we will see below.

Optimization of transport routes in the last mile

If you definitely bet on the last mile as a delivery point, one of the fundamental issues you'll have to think about is route optimization. It is necessary to synchronize all the elements of the capillary distribution.

Within the city, it is necessary to see which are the most efficient routes depending on factors such as real time traffic congestion and its possible alternatives, as well as cut streets and road works that may be a handicap in our condition of delivery.

Type of package and transport

It is also necessary to think about the size of the packages to be transported at each point and even the nature of that product. Transporting a fragile package is not the same as transporting a refrigerated food, for example.

Similarly, it is necessary to think about the types of vehicles, from motorcycles to refrigerated vans and to combine both their drivers and vehicles with other deliveries so that they "do not overlap". All this will result in better delivery, as is evident.

Terms of delivery to the customer

As we have already commented, the customer wants his package on time and in perfect condition. It is only necessary to see how there are some special dates where the transporters do not have enough resources, as for Christmas gifts.

In this sense, it is necessary to consider different variables for a correct management, where it enters for example the different hourly windows of the period of delivery of the product.

Senda, the tool to optimize the last mile

Mapa de envíos en la aplicación Senda de Alerce

As you can see, there are different key factors to make an effective last mile delivery. How is it possible to make everything fit together and find the best solution? A decision made with paper and pencil is not viable, as you can imagine. And even less so in real time!

In order to make the best decision on how to carry out the capillary distribution of goods, you have to make use of new technologies. Tools that serve to minimize these high costs and improve the quality and efficiency of final deliveries.

At Alerce, we have Senda, a tool specially designed to choose the best transport route. Among the different variables considered by this tool are the following:

  • Fleet and vehicle features available.
  • Package size and nature of carriage.
  • Terms of delivery.
  • Hourly windows.
  • Incompatibility of goods.
  • Average route speed and traffic restrictions.
  • Loading and unloading zones.

All these factors, incorporated within the same tool, will allow you to make the best decision for a delivery that seems essential within logistics management. If you want to know more about Senda and how it can help you, contact us!