The “last mile” refers to the very last leg of a shipment’s journey, which usually originates at the shipping hub and ends at the destination address. While it is usually the shortest part of the journey, it is often the most expensive and inefficient for last mile carriers. In this article, we’ll discuss last mile delivery and how it works, as well as why your best option is to work with a dedicated 3PL provider like Print Bind Ship.
What is Last Mile Delivery?
When the mail carrier picks up a package from the Post Office and delivers it to your doorstep, that refers to last mile delivery. When the FedEx driver carries the package from their local hub to your house, that’s also the last mile. This can make up as much as 50% of the logistics costs of any shipping, though, which can make it cost-prohibitive.
Another reason that this part of the shipping process is so difficult is that recipients aren’t always available to accept packages. There is also the increasing demand for deliveries, and without increasing the number of delivery providers, that can become a challenge. Plus, since packages are delivered randomly, they have to be specifically routed based on their destination.
And then there are the issues of delivery and shipping, tracking, and choosing the right carrier for the job. Of course, when you have a dedicated 3PL partner, none of those issues will be of your concern. Consider dropshipping as a solution to all your fulfillment challenges.
Last-Mile Delivery & Shipping Policies
Companies all have their own shipping policies that will impact the last mile delivery part of the process. If a company promises delivery in a certain period of time, they may have to choose a more expensive shipping service to get the logistics right based on last-mile routing. Plus, if a company has signature confirmation required, that’s going to impact the last mile costs and carrier, as well as the logistics of the process because the package can’t be delivered until or unless someone is available to sign for it.
Last Mile Tracking
Of all types of shipment tracking, last mile tracking is perhaps the most important. After all, prior to this, there are few places that shipments can get lost outside of the shipping provider’s care. In the last mile, though, there are so many things that could potentially go wrong. Shipments could be delivered to the wrong address, or they could be nabbed by porch pirates. Most companies include tracking for this part of the journey, but each will have its own guidelines for how many updates you get and how often.
Last mile tracking for customers includes things like: text updates via SMS; contact access to the delivery driver; tracking apps and websites; and even opportunities to rate the shipment process and delivery encounter. As technology continues to improve and evolve, it’s likely that last mile tracking solutions will continue to improve, as well.
Types of Last Mile Carriers
There are several types of last mile carriers. The most common are UPS, FedEx, and even the USPS. All of these providers are responsible for handling shipments in the last leg of their journey. Last mile carriers aim to deliver packages quickly and efficiently. To learn more about the pros and cons of each carrier, read The Best Shipping Options for Small Businesses.
One of the newest and best examples of last mile service comes from Amazon. They have created distribution centers all over the country to make most of their shipping “local,” getting rid of the last mile altogether. They have more drivers, fewer routes, and more flexibility to maximize efficiency and reduce wasted driving efforts.
White-glove carriers are another option. These are specialized companies, such as contractors from Amazon or another retailer, who deliver products with “white glove” service that includes installation and setup of products.
Parcel carriers are those that we already mentioned—UPS, FedEx, and USPS, as well as other carriers like them. These shippers all work with various types of shipping, including the last mile delivery of each of their shipments.
LTL stands for “less-than-truckload”. This is for piece orders or small orders that need to be delivered, but don’t require an entire truck. Companies will combine shipments going to similar locations to create a full truckload. Allowing them to offer lower rates to everyone. FedEx Freight and UPS Freight are both providers of these services, as are brands like Old Dominion, ABF Freight, and R+L Carriers.
FTL stands for full truckload, which is often easier to find but a much more expensive option. For items that can’t be shipped via parcel carriers and require a full truckload of their own, providers like Swift Transportation, U.S. Xpress, and Landstar System are available to provide delivery.
Finding the Right Last Mile Carrier
Because the logistics of the last mile are so complex, it can get expensive to handle this part of the delivery process. Small companies struggle to afford the shipping costs, in many places. Especially when they find themselves in need of expedited or other specialty services. Those just starting out in eCommerce might not realize how helpful a dedicated 3PL partner is to have on their side.
Ship with a 3PL Service
Instead of dealing with all of the logistics and headaches on your own, you could invest in the assistance of a 3PL provider who will take care of everything for you. 3PL stands for third-party logistics and refers to companies that handle order fulfillment, shipping, returns, and more. These companies make it easy for small startups and new businesses to get their foot in the door and keep up in the competitive shipping market today.
For one small cost, 3PL partners allow your company to get the best last mile delivery. And you don’t have to worry about the costs or logistics involved. In fact, you won’t have to worry about anything concerning order fulfillment when you choose a reputable 3PL provider.
3PL companies have dedicated relationships with shipping providers and the ability to handle the complex logistics of all kinds of deliveries. They have the resources necessary to provide prompt, efficient delivery and to help you deliver the best customer experience possible. For brands that can’t afford to improve their own shipping in-house, a 3PL partnership could be the way to go.
Last Mile Carrier Services with Print Bind Ship
The team at Print Bind Ship can help you improve your last mile delivery in several different ways. We enhance the customer experience in several ways, including with custom packages for small businesses. We also help reduce expenses, provide better shipping services for a lower cost, and more. Our relationships with shipping services, along with our experience in order fulfillment and processing, provides our customers with tools they need.
Print Bind Ship is a dedicated 3PL partner that takes care of shipping logistics, warehousing and distribution, and total order management from start to finish. Take the time to explore our services and contact us to schedule your free consultation. In no time, you’ll be on your way to more efficient, affordable last mile solutions.