January 13, 2024

By: Rao, Prashant
Senior Marketing Manager

Insiders in the last-mile industry know how crucial this segment of the order cycle is to customer experience. It’s also the most challenging and expensive part of the supply chain, with tasks like navigating dense urban areas, coping with traffic congestion, and routing deliveries of small loads to dispersed locations.

In recent years, the rest of the business world has gained a new appreciation for the last-mile industry and its value in the transportation sector and the universal supply chain. Innovative technology, increasing customer demand for convenience, and the shifts of a post-pandemic society have fueled rapid customer experience changes.

Your business’s last-mile experience is integral to reaching your goals this year. To ensure your business is a leader in customer experience, you should be aware of these five last-mile trends impacting the supply chain in 2024.

1. The rise in e-commerce

E-commerce has been on a steady growth track since the mid-1990s. However, the pandemic’s influence on consumer behavior caused a massive surge in e-commerce sales. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, e-commerce sales increased by $244.2 billion or 43%, and they continue to climb. According to U.S. Census data, third-quarter retail e-commerce sales for 2023 were up 7.6% from the prior year.

Online shopping through computers, tablets, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has boosted retail sales percentages. It has also significantly impacted business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. This rapid growth started at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most consumers turned to online shopping to avoid getting infected and comply with government restrictions. However, the momentum from the pandemic continues to propel its popularity.  Apparently, consumers have grown accustomed to avoiding crowded stores, not to mention shopping quickly and without geographical boundaries.

Since online shopping is a powerful trend,  last-mile software solutions are essential for connecting the needs of your teams and customers without sacrificing the convenience of both parties.

2. Same-day delivery

Delivery speed has become a competitive tool in the current marketplace. Your business used to be competitive with five-day delivery. Then, the standard shrank to two days, and now, same-day delivery is the threshold. And, the shorter the delivery window, the more challenging it is to balance operational cost and customer experience.

Same-day delivery requires remarkable precision with delivery mapping and other delivery solutions. After a customer purchase, a business must prepare the order, ship it, and hand it off to the last-mile vehicle the same day. It is so challenging to streamline the process that some retailers partner with last-mile fleets instead of their in-house delivery team.

Although same-day delivery is taxing, e-commerce same-day delivery is one of the most popular services in the U.S. In 2021, the global same-day delivery market was worth $8.4 billion. Industry studies forecast this will reach $26.4 billion by 2027.

3. Contactless delivery

Contactless delivery is another holdover of the pandemic shopping era. It has also had an evolutionary impact on last-mile delivery. As a result, fleets have sought to reduce human contact with last-mile delivery software solutions. These solutions can verify proof of delivery while optimizing driver and customer safety.

The contactless delivery approach is convenient for the driver and customer. It also adds flexibility to the daily schedules of drivers and customer teams since they don’t need to follow customer schedules.

4. Crowdsourcing

Recruiting and retaining drivers is one of the toughest challenges in last-mile delivery. For this reason, last-mile platforms allowing local drivers to join in delivery operations are gaining popularity. As a variation of rideshare applications, this type of last-mile delivery solution fits under the definition of crowdsourcing.

Although crowdsourcing offers impressive benefits to fleets, it can’t erase the fact that the last mile is often the most expensive part of the delivery process. Wise management of this last-mile approach is thus essential to getting the best return on investment. For example, crowdsourced drivers are typically hourly wage earners instead of salaried workers. This arrangement may save your fleet money, but specific cargo and large loads can be challenging to crowdsource. So, you must balance the workloads for salaried and hourly drivers.

5. Customer experience

You can trace most of the emerging innovations in the last-mile industry to improving and ensuring excellent customer experience. However, no customer experience strategy is complete without addressing drivers’ needs. Besides having the essential role of transporting goods, they are vital representatives of your business since they are your customers’ final point of contact. The best way to keep drivers happy is to have an efficient last-mile delivery solution that promotes a positive driving experience.

Another significant customer experience objective is helping your B2B customers focus on their customers instead of having to keep track of their orders with persistent phone calls. You can accomplish this objective with a proactive order notification solution that updates customers on every order’s status, location, and ETA.

Planning for this year’s last-mile trends

If you intend to capitalize on these trends, inventive last-mile-solutions leaders like Omnitracs can help you keep a winning pace in last-mile delivery. We constantly upgrade our technology to help your fleet stay on top of the dynamic changes in the last-mile industry. Learn how Omnitracs solutions can prepare your last-mile delivery for success this year.