As consumer shopping behavior has shifted, so has the “last mile”, the distance between a product’s point-of-sale and its final destination. Before online shopping, consumers owned the last mile delivery, transporting their purchases to their home. Today, as people shop online for everything from shoes to sofas, and new technologies continue to spur double-digit ecommerce growth, online merchants must innovate their last-mile delivery experiences or lose customers to competitors that offer superior services. Globally, e-commerce is experiencing high growth CAGR ~10% enabled by next generation technologies.1
The last mile moves to center stage
These days, online retailers are playing perpetual catch-up with consumer behavior and desires. Shoppers are demanding both fast and free shipping. With a device in nearly everyone’s back pocket, people have easy access to online stores as never before, and this has exponentially spawned order and fulfillment options. Now, customers expect their orders to meet them where they are, whether it’s their home, office, or vacation destination. All of this make the “last mile” experience not only pivotal in leaving a lasting impression, but also in gathering additional customer data.
Meanwhile, businesses face other challenges related to the disrupted supply chain, with the flow of predictable inventory levels from producers and wholesalers to point-of-sale becoming a thing of the past. All of these seismic shifts should serve to remind businesses that they need to manage both the opportunity and costs of optimizing the last-mile experience in this rapidly changing ecosystem.