The last-mile problem refers to the disproportionate effort of the last leg of delivery compared to their entire journey from business to your door. If you’ve ever checked tracking updates and seen the “Out for Delivery” notification seemingly drag on forever, then you’ve likely experienced the tediousness of the last mile. Courier services need innovations in delivery systems and advancements in technologies to improve last-mile delivery. With a centralized location, detailed recording of the chain of delivery, and doorstep security, smart lockers provide that very innovation the delivery system lacks.
What Causes the Last-Mile Problem?
To answer this question, we first take a look at the last mile problem’s opposite. What exactly makes the rest of the delivery system so efficient? For every other part of the courier system, packages are moved in bulk. They travel together from warehouses to distribution centers where sorting is systemized. On the other hand, to get packages to their final destinations, the process clogs up. Couriers make wide-ranging stops, just dropping one or two things at each location – never mind the obstacle unpredictable traffic can cause.
Ultimately, the last mile eats up time and resources. In fact, the last mile accounts for over 50% of shipping costs. With the increased rates of package delivery and an expectation for free shipping, solving the last-mile problem is in the best interest of the couriers and the recipients alike.
The Courier Market: A Force to be Reckoned With
As an industry, package delivery is handled by the Courier, Express, and Parcel (CEP) market. Three major parcel couriers dominate the scene: UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. Between these three, over 20 billion packages were delivered in 2020, generating 171 billion dollars in revenue. That’s a 30% increase from 2019 and almost double the amount from 2016.
Everything Is Delivered
While the CEP industry holds its own from the market perspective, its impact carries just as much weight on the microscale. In other words, packages are important to people. Parcel delivery rates have risen due to the increase in demand for everything from goods and groceries to medications and technology. Additionally, subscriptions aren’t just for magazines anymore. Between meal prep companies and the beauty and wellness industry, subscription boxes show up on doorsteps multiple times each week. Our culture has built up a dependence on the package delivery system. With that reliance, consumers have greater demands around the safety and transparency of their package delivery systems.
The Solution: Smart Lockers
Smart lockers attack the last-mile problem from a few different angles. They provide added security and transparency for your deliveries while also streamlining systems for parcel couriers.
Simplify Delivery Routes
By condensing a subdivision, apartment complex, or office park into a central smart locker system, delivery drivers simply don’t make as many stops. Instead of driving to ten different locations to make ten deliveries, they just stop at one. By centralizing deliveries at a smart locker, post workers save time and increase capacity. With more efficiency in the system, the tedium of last-mile delivery lessens, and your wait time on the “out for delivery” portion of shipping decreases!
More BIPOS Options
Another option for those that don’t want to wait for shipping time or waste time perusing the shelves (and risk COVID exposure), is the popular strategy to buy online, and pick up in the store. Referred to as BIPOS, smart lockers provide the ideal infrastructure for businesses hoping to offer a simple pick-up solution for their customers. With temperature-controlled options, this works for grocery stores and restaurant to-go orders!
Mistakes happen and packages can be lost. Especially in the hubbub of offices or apartment complexes, daily delivery mix-ups throw wrenches in the promised convenience of a door-to-door courier service. Package theft is another last-mile scourge (reminder to get a renter’s insurance plan!). In 2020, 43% of people reported having a package stolen. Using a smart locker system, couriers deposit packages directly into a secure steel system instead of leaving them out in the open.
A Clear Chain-of-Custody
While any courier service provides its own tracking numbers and software, these don’t account for what happens to a package after delivery. In the case of offices or apartments, the chaotic hubbub of a mailroom eats packages for breakfast. Smart lockers not only keep packages sorted but their built-in software records the final transactions: mail courier to locker and locker to the recipient. With that detail added to the chain-of-custody log, recipients and couriers have added consolation that their deliveries will end up in the right hands.
With the prevalence of e-commerce and reliance on courier systems in today’s world, ironing out the wrinkles in last-mile delivery benefits everyone! By simplifying delivery routes, improving security, and documenting the complete chain-of-custody, smart lockers help solve the last-mile problem.