eCommerce dictionary: what is the last mile?

  • In our eCommerce Dictionary we explain what the last mile is when it comes to logistics. Find out more!

  • In logistics, the last stage in the delivery of a product is known as the last mile or capillary distribution. Specifically, from the time it arrives at the local warehouse until final delivery to the customer.
  • Why is the last mile so important?

  • Undoubtedly, this ends up being the most critical phase of the process since most eCommerce usually delegate it to third parties (3PL), so, logically, as eCommerce we do not have as much control.

    It is also the most complex from a logistical point of view: it is time-consuming, involves many external factors and is a highly relevant aspect of customer experience and satisfaction.
  • The problem of the last mile

  • There are certain drawbacks related to this stage of delivery. In reality there are several, but they can be grouped into one: inefficiency.

    No matter how well the process is designed and how many advanced tools are used, we cannot ignore the fact that there are always multiple stops. In unpopulated areas, delivery drivers have to cover large areas with recipients separated by many kilometers, while in urban areas the problem is always traffic, even if they are close to each other.

    There is also a certain cost inefficiency. Customers always want to receive their parcels in record time and usually without paying more for it - which, indirectly, can be a problem for our margin. 

    In addition, problems arising from incorrect handling or customers' own absence from their homes can end up generating a series of returns with the consequent cost in terms of reverse logistics.
  • Optimization of last mile transportation

  • There are some tips we can apply to try to make the last mile more efficient:
    • Perform picking with great control to avoid errors (ideally that products are scanned and linked to the database).
    • Use local couriers and pick-up points.
    • Have an advanced tracking system. Rely on tools such as SMS notifications of expected delivery or real-time GPS.

Laia Ordoñez

Laia Ordóñez is a copywriting & eCommerce content marketing expert. She is Content & Marketing Manager at DueHome, a copywriting & content independent advisor, and Oleoshop's blog's editor-in-chief.

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