Innovation in last mile freight and parcel delivery solutions could yield significant benefits for cities by reducing traffic congestion in urban centers, improving public health by lessening greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and contributing to the success of sustainable urban economies.
What is Last Mile Delivery?
From a manufacturer’s plant or warehouse or a supplier or retailer location, the last mile of delivery is the final stage in the shipping process, culminating with arrival of a package or goods at a customer’s destination.
Last-mile delivery and associated services are provided by established freight transport companies, courier firms, independent drivers and couriers, click-and-collect retailers, self-service parcel lockers, and postal service destination hubs. Delivery vehicles in the last mile include diesel and gas-powered trucks and vans, electric trucks, pushcarts, pedal carts, bicycles and robotic vehicles (in pilot projects). Due to the steady growth of e-commerce, the number of delivery vehicles and the volume of deliveries and locations have dramatically increased. In addition, the market for urban delivery services is undergoing an evolution with independent drivers and new entrants competing with traditional courier firms.
Although last-mile deliveries are an essential part of a city’s business ecosystem, this final leg of the shipping process is strained by the tension resulting from delivery vehicles crowding streets, polluting the environment and affecting public safety. Last-mile delivery is often blamed for urban problems and negative impact on quality of life. In congested urban areas, public health is impaired by greenhouse gases (GHGs) when streets are filled with gas-powered and diesel-powered vehicles searching for delivery addresses or parking spaces. In Europe, more than 50 percent of road transport fuel is combusted in urban areas. Last-mile delivery is also the most time-consuming and costly part of the shipping process, according to a study by Business Insider, which states that last-mile delivery costs comprise 53 percent of the total cost of shipping.
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