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Importance of Last Mile Delivery in Logistics and Ecommerce

August 21, 2023 | By Joe Weaver
Last Modified: January 26, 2024
Why is last mile delivery important? This final step in the delivery process is increasing in significance as more customers rely on delivery rather than visiting brick and mortar shops. Learn more about this vital aspect of logistics.

The importance of last mile delivery is like the final, winning move in a board game – it can make or break the entire experience. Your customer has been eagerly tracking their package since the moment they clicked the purchase button. 

The journey from the warehouse to their city has been smooth. Now, the package is just a few miles away from their doorstep. This is where the true challenge begins. 

According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, the last mile in logistics is critical because it’s often the final touchpoint with customers. Ensuring timely and accurate delivery not only fulfills customer expectations, but also boosts brand loyalty and reputation.

In this article, we’ll provide a detailed explanation of why final mile is important, its impact on your business model, and how USA Last Mile Logistics can help you keep up with increased customer expectations during this crucial stage of the shipping process.

Importance of Last Mile Delivery: Why is it Crucial in the E-Commerce World?

In the era of online shopping, consumers expect fast and reliable delivery. They want their stuff, and they want it now. Last mile delivery plays an instrumental role in meeting these expectations. It’s the final point of contact between a shipper and their customer, and therefore has significant ramifications if errors occur.

Over the last several years, ecommerce sales have grown almost exponentially. This growth was accelerated during the pandemic. 

The following table displays the amount of money spent worldwide on ecommerce transactions since 2017.

YearSales in Billions of USD


With the growth of e-commerce, a seamless last mile delivery experience can provide a competitive edge, making it indispensable for businesses to focus on this aspect of the supply chain. Reasons for this include:

  • It meets customer expectations of timely delivery.
  • Efficient last mile delivery can lead to cost savings, sustaining profitability.
  • It is the most visible logistics component to your customers, affecting the optics of your business.

Let’s face it; happy customers go on to become repeat customers. A dissatisfied customer won’t come back and will warn people off businesses after a bad experience. Which result would you prefer?

Consult with the last mile experts. We’re here to help.

Why is Last Mile Delivery Challenging?

Two warehouse employees reviewing information on a laptop.

Last mile delivery isn’t without its challenges. Pitfalls are plentiful and difficult to overcome. Failure to anticipate these issues can be devastating to this final step in logistics.

Common Hurdles in Last Mile Delivery

Missteps can occur in every step of the logistics process, and delivery is no exception. Ignoring these potential perils is a quick way to tank your business. 

Here are some of the major challenges found in the last mile.

  • High Costs of Last Mile: The price of labor, maintenance fees, and fuel adds up quickly. This stage often accounts for a significant portion of the total shipping expenses.
  • Speed: Customers expect fast delivery, which can be hard to achieve consistently.
  • Navigating Urban Areas: Dense areas with traffic congestion are tough to navigate.
  • Delivery Windows: Heavy freight shipments usually require a signature before the driver can drop them off. This puts more pressure on the last mile delivery service to meet time-sensitive windows specified by the recipient.

These hurdles can lead to delays and an increased total cost of delivery. This results in decreased profits and upset customers. Thankfully, these issues have a solution.

How Can 3PL Warehouses and Distribution Centers Address These Challenges?

Third-party logistics companies can address many of the hurdles of last mile delivery. They take the pressure off of businesses, allowing them to focus on their products and customer satisfaction.

Some of the advantages that come with using a 3PL warehouse partner include:

  • Streamlining processes to improve efficiency.
  • Optimizing routes with modern technology.
  • Offering flexible and scalable solutions to meet varying customer demands.

Enacting these strategies leads to a more cost-effective and customer-friendly last mile delivery process.

Put our 3PL infrastructure to work for your business. Get a quote today!

Showcasing Examples of Last Mile Delivery Success

An efficient last mile operation can substantially elevate a business’s success. A handful of companies are pioneers in meeting the delivery expectations of demanding customers. Much of their success comes from upgrading last mile operations.

Which Companies Excel in Last Mile Delivery?

E-commerce giants like Amazon have set new standards in last mile delivery. These companies have understood the importance of the last mile and have invested heavily in infrastructure and technology to enhance their delivery processes. As for companies that couldn’t keep up? Those former titans of malls and outlets have gone the way of video rental stores.

Proven Last Mile Strategies

The following practices have proven fruitful in smoothing over difficulties in the last mile.

  • Using crowdsourcing for deliveries.
  • Local fulfillment centers to cut down distances.
  • Investing in technology for enhanced tracking and communication.

By focusing on efficiency and customer experience, these strategies contribute to a competitive advantage in the market.

A Look into the Future: Traditional vs Autonomous Last Mile Delivery

Pallets loaded with wrapped boxes being loaded onto a semi trailer.

While traditional delivery involves manual processes, the future lies in automation. The potential for reducing errors and cutting costs is too lucrative for any savvy businessperson to ignore. 

How is Technology Revolutionizing Last Mile Delivery?

Last mile delivery trends are moving toward unmanned vehicles. Automated systems are changing the game in logistics. 

These are some of the technologies shaping the future of the last mile.

  • Drones deliver packages with same-day delivery in select markets.
  • Autonomous ground vehicles are minimizing human errors.
  • Robotics are speeding up warehouse packing.

Currently, fully autonomous last mile delivery is limited to small parcels in select metropolitan areas. Traditional delivery strategies are still prevalent; however, as the technology improves, it’s easy to see that full automation will become the standard. Before long, that pair of socks you ordered will be dropped off by a flying robot. But are there any drawbacks to automation?

What are the Pros and Cons of Traditional vs Autonomous Last Mile Delivery?

The most significant pro of traditional last mile delivery is simple: availability. The technology and infrastructure already exist. Currently, if you order products online, your shipment will almost certainly be delivered by hand, just as in years past.

With that said, the biggest con comes hand-in-hand with availability: cost. As last mile technology races to keep up with customer demands, the cost of this delivery process has risen to over half of the total price of the logistics cycle.

Comparatively, autonomous delivery offers:

  • Lower long-term costs.
  • Higher speed and efficiency.
  • Less prone to human error.
  • Faster delivery times.

The initial investment and construction of infrastructure are the two biggest cons to autonomous delivery. Regulatory issues can also raise their heads. In the U.S. particularly, regulations governing the use of driverless vehicles can vary from one city to another.

What is the Most Important Aspect of the Last Mile?

The last mile is the final interaction with your customer and is essential for satisfaction. As such, final mile delivery is key to sustaining your business.

Why is Customer Satisfaction the Ultimate Goal?

Even if you execute every other step in the logistics chain flawlessly, mistakes in the last mile can have a huge negative impact on your business. It all comes down to the customer experience, and the last mile is the most customer-facing aspect of shipping. 

What results can you expect from a well-executed last mile?

  • Positive experiences that encourage repeat business.
  • Good delivery experiences leading to word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Transparent communication, which builds customer trust.

While large companies have the luxury of proprietary last mile operations, smaller businesses will benefit from partnering with an experienced 3PL. That’s where we come in.

Taking Action: Partner With USA Last Mile Logistics

The importance of last mile delivery can’t be overstated. That’s why your business has much to gain from partnering with USA Last Mile Logistics. 

We have years of experience with last mile solutions such as:

  • Cross docking
  • Lift gate-equipped trucks
  • Delivery to rural areas
  • And more

Simply put, when it comes to the last mile, we’ve been there and done that. Call us today at 866-569-1445, or contact us directly through our site. Our team is ready to help you take the first step toward the last mile.

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