Posted by Mary Tinsley on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 @ 09:30 AM

7 trends in last mile delivery


An increase in online shopping, and a generally more consumer-driven society, has given rise to a greater number of challenges around urban freight distribution – including escalating pollution levels and road congestion.

It’s clear that there is currently an appetite for improving urban deliveries and those involved in last mile delivery are likely to face further inner-city compliance issues and challenging customer demands.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of 7 emerging trends in last mile delivery.

1.   Robotics

Robots have been posed as one such solution to the urban freight distribution problem. An initiative by Starship Technologies use electric powered robots to deliver groceries, food and other items within a two mile radius in Greenwich. Moving at the average speed of a pedestrian, the robots deliver goods within a maximum delivery window of 30 minutes.

They’re zero emission and they would eliminate unnecessary short car journeys – helping to tackle the issue of rising pollutant levels. What’s more, the robots would benefit an ageing society who may not be as physically capable. The robots were trialled by online food delivery service Just Eat in 2016, however adoption by the UK government remains unclear.

2.   City warehouses

To meet customer demands for same-day instant delivery, there is a growing trend for organisations to build or take advantage of urban warehouse space. Amazon have jumped on this trend, by building 58 Amazon Price Now Hubs in the US in order to “create a lean, cost-effective logistics network that rivals anything its competitors an offer”.

3.   Delivery tricycles

To help ease congestion, it’s expected more electrically-assisted machines will be used for last mile deliveries, taking packages to customers’ doors from central storage facilities, such as city warehouses. The robots mentioned above, along with delivery tricycles being trialled by UPS in London are examples of this trend in action.

4.   Ultra–Low Emission Zones

The introduction of Ultra-Low Emission Zones and Clean Air Zones encourage drivers to invest in more environment-friendly vehicles. Those not meeting emissions standards required by zones will face strict penalties. It is likely that more cities will see similar penalties for non-compliant vehicles, or financial incentives to encourage the take-up of low-carbon vehicles for the last mile.

5.   Delivery and tracking

There’s an increased focus on visibility in the delivery process. Data that demonstrates proof of delivery along with tracking information is invaluable for when a package is late or gets lost. It also improves user experiences, as customers can see exactly where their driver or package currently is, with estimated times of arrival.

6.   Smart technology

The ability to track your package is just one benefit of new technology. Now, smart technology can be used to deliver further insight and improve deliveries. For example, the temperature of sensitive items can be monitored, which is particularly beneficial to pharmaceutical or food and drink manufacturers who need products to remain at certain temperature on-route.

7.   Zero Truck solutions

A popular trend for last mile delivery is the requirement for zero-truck solutions to address emissions and congestion, particularly in central and densely populated areas of cities – a key theme highlighted in this year’s Freight in the City.

UPS have already tested one solution in Hamburg where a container is dropped off in city centres as a base for onwards cycle logistics deliveries.

You can catch-up on some of the latest trends we discovered in our Freight in the City round-up blog.

If you’re involved in last mile delivery and would like some more information on innovative solutions that make customer demands and environmental challenges less competing, download our FREE eBook: Last Mile Delivery: Opportunity or Threat?

Last mile delivery opportunity or threat

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Topics: Last mile delivery