Three's no longer a crowd when it comes to last mile delivery


Three’s no longer a crowd when it comes to last mile delivery

October 10, 2018


By Paul Yewman

Imagine opening your window, throwing out a parcel and knowing it would arrive at its destination. The idea might seem far fetched now, yet increasing demand for convenience, an abundance of new last mile technologies and growing calls for sustainability are driving us toward this future.

The only piece of the puzzle that remains to be solved is the best way for brands, tech startups and delivery companies to work together.

Enter the partnership

While partnerships are not new to supply and distribution, a lot of people consider alliances exclusively as between two partners; there’s the brave new world of the delivery tech startup and the old dinosaur of the bricks and mortar high street store. You mash them together and voila, something fantastic happens.

Trouble is, this kind of last mile partnership almost always overlooks one third of the equation. For instance, a partnership between an existing legacy retailer and an agile tech startup might lack the infrastructure needed to physically get deliveries to customers’ doors.

Likewise, a partnership between an agile ecommerce platform and an innovative delivery company might lack the technology needed to ensure parcels reach the right destination each time.

If partnerships were instead to encompass all three; a brand, a distributor and a tech solution provider, suddenly you’ve got a collaboration that’s going to get you where you need to go.

In other words, for the last mile to work we need to usher in the era of the ‘many-way’ partnership.

Enter the partners

For retailers it’s about understanding the great conundrum of the industry: short term gain equals long term problems. Take Amazon as an example - despite having some of the biggest partnership opportunities available, the web giant has missed a critical opportunity with the recent launch of its new logistics offering.

Amazon ordered 20,000 diesel Mercedes vans where, one might argue, they could have instead partnered with Ford, Nissan, GM or even Tesla to provide an electric van capable of 300 miles to really kick start sustainability in the last mile. This cements the fact that, where the world would once have looked to Amazon to lead from the front, the web giant is now the established monopoly that has strayed far from its roots as great innovative newcomer.

For distributors it’s about addressing the growing challenges and opportunities around regulation and infrastructure. With cities like Madrid and Oslo announcing a ban on non-resident vehicles, blended distribution models are on the rise.

Closer to home, The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for a ban on all new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2020 in conjunction with the UK Government’s announcement of £2 million funding for e-cargo delivery bikes. With these kinds of changes underway the industry is bracing for a shift in how things are delivered as well as where they are delivered from.

To cater to this, it’s more critical than ever that last mile tech innovators bridge the gap between the problems that need solutions and the lengths to which brands are willing to go. For example, with electric vehicle uptake on the rise PostTag’s accurate locations will go a long way towards ensuring drivers reach the right location first time, every time - alleviating the range anxiety at the same time as increasing productivity and efficiency of the vehicle and driver.

As brands seek ways to claw back at the cost of delivery and distributors push for ways to save time, there’s never been a better time for many-way partnerships and the last mile.

Want to join the last mile conversation? Become a member of The Last Mile Consortium Group on LinkedIn today.

Nicole Lyons