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Last Mile Delivery Best Practices That Streamline Operations

July 10, 2023 | By Jacob Lee
Last Modified: April 3, 2024
Discover the top last mile delivery best practices to optimize your processes, ensure efficient and save money.

Last mile delivery best practices help customers receive their packages efficiently and reliably. It’s important that products make their final journey from the distribution center to a company’s store without incident. However, using this last mile service can be challenging for businesses to navigate. Therefore, it’s essential for companies to learn how to optimize this operation.  

According to industry experts at Supply Chain Digest, some last mile delivery best practices include the following:

  • Route planning
  • Leveraging real-time tracking 
  • Collaborating with local partners 
  • Using analytics
  • Customer management

These strategies help ensure timely and seamless deliveries while enhancing customer satisfaction.

Businesses should understand and use last mile delivery best practices to optimize this service to the fullest. 

What Are the Top Last Mile Delivery Best Practices?

Businesses are constantly seeking ways to improve how they receive the products they sell or use in their daily operations. The last leg of the delivery process is where products make their final journey. 

Many businesses use a variety of different practices to ensure that last mile delivery is as efficient as possible. We’ll explain each one and how they will benefit a company’s operations. 

1. Route Planning

Route planning is a critical aspect of last mile delivery. This process focuses on finding the most efficient and cost-effective paths for delivery vehicles. Optimizing routes lets businesses minimize travel time. This results in reduced consumption of fuel and enhances overall productivity.

Route planning requires a considerable amount of preparation. To ensure this process is completed efficiently, businesses only need to follow a few simple steps.

These include:

  1. Optimal Sequencing
  2. Real-Time Traffic Monitoring
  3. Geographical Clustering

Optimal sequencing is used to organize multiple stops in a logical order. This lets delivery drivers follow a sequence that minimizes backtracking and reduces the overall distance traveled. Therefore, if a business requires last mile delivery to three locations, they should have each one sent in a sequential order. 

Real-time traffic data and navigation tools helps drivers avoid congested routes and choose alternative paths. This can help businesses who are having products delivered to a location in a busy city. Staying updated on traffic conditions and patterns can help box trucks avoid delays.

Grouping deliveries in specific geographical areas can help optimize routes. This involves combining multiple shipments in the same area into one. 

Using each of these route planning techniques will help businesses save money on last mile delivery services. Each of these options help reduce the amount of fuel that delivery vehicles have to use when transporting a shipment.  

2. Real-Time Tracking and Communication

Real-time tracking and communication are crucial elements of last mile delivery. This best practice enables businesses to monitor the progress of freight and keep customers informed about their shipment. 

The ways a company can provide real time tracking and communication include:

  • Delivery tracking apps
  • Automated SMS/email notifications
  • Driver-customer communication

Businesses that have a mobile app or online platform to track their deliveries in real-time can see when their orders will arrive via straight truck. Companies can then prepare to receive their goods at the specified time.

A business can also use automated notifications that give them updated information about their cargo.  

This includes: 

  • Order confirmation
  • Dispatch alerts
  • Estimated arrivals
  • Delivery completion

Notifications allow companies to stay in the loop about their incoming freight. Finally, driver-business communication is another way to guarantee real-time tracking and communication. This can be done easily with the use of mobile apps. 

Even during the short transit-times of last mile delivery, important information might need to be shared. Therefore, using apps that allow shippers to facilitate communication with drivers can be valuable.

3. Collaboration with Local Partners

Another best practice in last mile delivery that companies can use is collaboration with local partners. This valuable strategy in last mile delivery is particularly useful in a variety of ways.

Some of these include:

  • Expanding delivery reach
  • Reducing transportation costs
  • Improving delivery efficiency

Regardless of where businesses are located, it’s very likely they can find nearby providers that can perform last mile transportation. Hiring a smaller company to perform this delivery service might be a more efficient option. The experience a local provider has in the area is oftentimes superior to larger companies. 

4. Analytics

Analytics are another best practice that businesses can employ when using last mile delivery services. Companies can obtain this information from previous shipments using inventory management systems. The information a business finds can be used to make future orders more efficient. 

Two ways analytics are used to enhance last mile delivery services include:

  • Demand forecasting
  • Performance monitoring

Reviewing historical order data helps businesses predict what times of the year they’re the busiest. In doing so, they’ll know when they’ll require last mile delivery the most. 

This helps by:

  • Optimizing resource allocation
  • Ensuring sufficient inventory availability
  • Planning delivery schedules to meet customer expectations

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is another method of using analytics as a best practice in last mile delivery. This will help a company identify bottlenecks and other areas of their operations that need to be improved. 

Some types of KPIs include:

  • On-time delivery rates
  • Delivery accuracy
  • Customer satisfaction 

Based on this KPI data, businesses can use last mile delivery services more efficiently.

5. Customer Management

Businesses also have to worry about the last mile deliveries they send to their customers. Therefore, effective customer management is important. 

There are few ways that companies can do this, such as:

  • Flexible delivery options
  • Proactive issue resolution
  • Communication
  • Notifications and updates

One way of sending goods to a buyer isn’t always efficient. Flexible delivery options tailored to customer preferences can significantly improve satisfaction. 

Alternative options can include:

  • Providing different time window options
  • Enabling customers to reschedule deliveries
  • Offering alternative delivery locations

Proactive issue resolution is another way companies can learn how to improve last mile delivery with customer management. This technique identifies and addresses potential delivery issues. Stopping problems before they occur will improve customer satisfaction.

An open line of communication is also essential for buyers. This helps build trust and fosters a positive customer experience. Additionally, customers might request alternative delivery options. 

Businesses should also give their customers notifications and updates on the progress of their shipment. This lets buyers more accurately track their shipments. 

Semi truck backed into the loading=

Who Can Benefit From Last Mile Best Practices?

Last mile delivery best practices don’t have to be limited to one type of company. A variety of business use it to benefit their operations.

This includes:

  • Retailers
  • E-commerce businesses
  • Restaurants

Companies like these should know how last mile delivery best practices will help them and their customers receive the products they need. 

Retailers and Last Mile Delivery Optimization

Retailers, especially those with brick-and-mortar stores, can benefit greatly from implementing last mile best practices. Delivery optimization techniques can help a company consolidate deliveries in specific areas. 

This reduces travel distances, which results in lower fuel costs. Consolidation of different loads into one last mile delivery means that retailers won’t have to wait for different shipments to arrive at different times. Therefore, a business will receive their goods quickly and at the destination they listed destination. 

Last Mile Delivery Efficiency for E-commerce Businesses

E-commerce businesses heavily rely on last mile delivery for their success. Since companies like these don’t have a physical store, they use this service exclusively for transporting goods to their customers. Last mile delivery best practices, like real-time tracking and communication, is very useful for E-commerce businesses.

This technique gives customers the ability to track their own shipments. They can also contact a carrier if they have questions or concerns. Using this best practices helps E-commerce businesses reduce costs associated with failed deliveries or returns. 

Last Mile Delivery Business Plans for Restaurants

Use of last mile delivery is extremely important for restaurants. Much of the items that travel to these locations are perishable. Therefore, it’s vital for these goods to arrive without spoiling. Real-time tracking is also useful for restaurants that use last mile delivery. 

One best practice used to optimize this service that’s very useful is route planning. To ensure food arrives in a timely manner, restaurants use shipment paths. This ensures that a last mile delivery makes it to a restaurant before they go bad. 

Real-time tracking is another essential last mile delivery best practice for restaurants. This allows business to prepare for the arrival of their goods. A restaurant could also divert a truck along a different route if their shipment runs into traffic.  

Without best practices, you’ll likely run into last mile delivery problems. Read our article on this topic to discover these issues more in-depth.

A pallet on pallet jack that's about to be loaded into a delivery vehicle

Factors Influencing Last Mile Delivery Rates

Despite the best practices that can optimize this service, businesses will still need to pay last mile delivery rates. We’ve included some data that shows how this service can cost a company.

Last Mile Delivery Rates

Package Weight24-Hour Delivery48-Hour Delivery72-Hour Delivery
1–2 Pounds$10$15$20
3–5 Pounds$15$20$25
6–10 Pounds$20$25$30

This data was accumulated from different sources. As this information shows, the amount that a company will pay for last mile delivery varies based on different factors. 

These include:

  • Distance
  • Weight of the packages
  • Delivery volume and frequency
  • Service level and delivery speed

Companies should understand how each of these factors can change how much they pay for this service.

1. Distance and Geographical Coverage

Despite the final leg of the delivery process being called last mile, shipments very rarely travel this distance. The space between the distribution center and the customer’s location is a significant factor influencing rates for this delivery service.

When a business uses last mile, they should consider if they’re located in an urban or rural area. Deliveries to urban places tend to be more cost-effective due to shorter distances and better road networks. On the other hand, delivering to rural or remote areas often involves longer distances and challenging terrain, leading to higher delivery rates.

2. Weight of Packages

When it comes to last mile delivery, the weight of packages plays a crucial role in determining delivery rates. Packages that are heavier will cost more than lighter ones. 

The reason for this is due to handling charges. Packages that exceed a certain weight threshold or have irregular dimensions are harder to load and drop off. Therefore, carriers apply additional handling charges for these types of items.

3. Delivery Volume and Frequency

The volume of deliveries and the frequency at which they occur play a significant role in determining last mile delivery rates. Regardless of how cheaply a business obtains these services, more shipments mean more money is spent.  

A company can lower the expenses incurred from frequent last mile deliveries by consolidating loads. Businesses that consistently ship large quantities of products or conduct bulk deliveries can negotiate discounted rates with carriers due to the higher volume of freight. Despite box trucks being smaller than a dry van trailer, these vehicles are still able to carry combined loads.

4. Service Level and Delivery Speed

Finally, the service level and delivery speed can affect last mile delivery best practices. The options a business chooses can determine how much they pay. That said, faster delivery service and speed is always more expensive.

Delivery options that shippers can use include:

  • Standard delivery
  • Express or expedited
  • Additional services

Companies should consider what they need from their last mile provider and budget accordingly. 

Partner with USA Last Mile Logistics for Seamless Delivery Solutions

USA Last Mile Logistics can handle the final leg of the delivery process for you. Our team of experts is well-versed in the intricacies of last mile logistics and we have the tools and expertise to optimize your delivery operations. 

We’ll connect you with a delivery company that’s perfect for the needs of your shipment. With our commitment to reliability and transparency, you’ll have a reliable strategic partner in USA Last Mile Logistics. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to revolutionize the final leg of the shipping process. Fill out a quote form for your last mile shipment. Contact us today at (866) 569-1445 if you have any questions or concerns. 

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