Last mile delivery is defined as the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination. The final delivery destination is typically a personal residence. The focus of last mile logistics is to deliver items to the end user as fast as possible.
There you have it, the last mile is delivering as fast as possible, if it was in athletics it's the one trying to be Usain Bolt. If it’s in the supply chain, your working out how fast can you get those shoes from start to end… so pretty similar to what Mr. Bolt is doing.
This part of the supply chain is where a lot of people spend their time, and looking at it from a macro perspective, this interaction is the most tangible for the end customer - especially when you're talking about retail consumer goods. The last mile is usually the thing your patiently waiting on, then find out the driver has thrown the package over the fence or rung the bell and ran away before you can get to the door.
People have always had certain expectations regarding delivery services and with the proliferation of the internet and the increasing ability to access information. The expectations have changed, not only are companies expected to deliver good to specific criteria, there is also an expectation around how information is reported to customers. For instance, look at how Uber has changed things by simply letting you know when the car will be arriving.
Granted some companies are just… worse, than others. A key point of frustration for many operators is that factors beyond their control influence their ability to meet customer demands, like traffic, flooding, IT service dropouts, or people simply not being at home. All of which throws off the perfect scenario and impact a carriers ability to deliver their goods to customers on time, to the right place in the right quantity - not broken and not incurring further costs.
Pizza is a great example, you can go into the store, order and wait - in this case, there is no last mile because you are picking up from the manufacturer. But let's say you're too busy or bored or lazy to go into the pizza shop, maybe it's a bit further away. You can get it delivered by the pizza shop or that same business might outsource to a service like Deliveroo. Now the last mile is visible to you, you can see when the delivery person has left the store, where they are and inevitably find them on the street when they can’t find your house. Regardless, you ordered and 15 minutes later, you are eating a pizza. Happiness achieved.
It’s also very exciting when you think about a drone being able to carry out that same delivery - even faster (by not having to put up with traffic). Maybe not in bad weather, and maybe not at scale anytime soon, but soon enough to get excited.
You could also go a step further, what if you don’t need to have a pizza delivered, what if you could just “summon” the pizza to your kitchen, once again, removing the last mile from the process entirely.
Point is, you know what the last mile is, its the thing you're waiting for after you press “checkout”. And exciting ways are coming which you might want to check out!