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Last mile deliveries: Getting it right

Abhishek
Working on "AI on Steroids"
・2 min read

People get accustomed to the conveniences of buying things from home: Three out of four Americans want their online orders to be brought right to their doorsteps. This places additional pressure on logistics and especially on its final stage — last-mile delivery. Here are some of the important considerations to get it right:

A route optimization algorithm identifies the fastest and most cost-effective, multi-stop routes for drivers, considering numerous factors — such as traffic, travel distances, and time windows offered to customers. Advanced solutions may accommodate predefined routes to real-time changes.

An auto-dispatch engine matches a delivery task with a specific driver based on pre-defined priorities and business rules. This significantly saves labor cost and service time.

Real-time driver (fleet) tracking leverages GPS technology and drivers’ smartphones to ensure fleet visibility. They let dispatchers and customers know where vehicles are without the need for any additional hardware.

An estimated time of arrival (ETA) calculation predicts when a driver or courier will place the parcel on a customer’s doorstep. Predictive analytics and machine learning technologies increase the accuracy of such estimations, taking into account different factors — like GPS coordinates, distance to the next stop, the average length of breaks, and historical data.

Status updates are sent to customers on a regular basis to keep them informed about their orders. Some solutions may come with live chats or the ability to make a direct call to a dispatcher or driver.

An electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) allows customers to sign their names electronically right on drivers’ tablets or smartphones. E-signatures are uploaded into the system’s backend to confirm deliveries.

A data dashboard displays all key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to monitor operations and optimize services.
With all basic modules in place, there is still no universal solution fitting any existing last mile scenario. Functionality for prepared meal deliveries will somewhat differ from alcohol deliveries coming with confirmation requirements, or white glove shipping that deals with expensive, fragile, and climate-sensitive purchases.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to add it in the comments!

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