Ultimate Guide to Last-Mile Delivery

What Last-Mile Delivery Means

Last-mile delivery is the final leg of the supply chain, where a product is transported from a distribution centre or fulfilment centre to its ultimate destination, often a consumer’s home or a retail store.

It is called the “last-mile” because it represents the last and typically the most challenging leg in the delivery journey. Last-mile delivery is a critical logistics component for e-commerce retailers since it significantly impacts the customer experience.

Several key features characterise last-mile delivery:

  1. Proximity to the end customer: It involves the shortest distance between the distribution point and the customer, often within the same urban or suburban area.
  2. High frequency: Last-mile deliveries are numerous and occur frequently, especially in densely populated areas with high demand for goods and services.
  3. Diverse transportation methods: Various transportation methods, including bicycles, electric scooters, delivery vans, and even drones, may be used for last-mile delivery, depending on the product, location, and other factors.
  4. Time sensitivity: Last-mile delivery is time-sensitive, as customers often expect quick delivery times, with options such as same-day or next-day delivery becoming increasingly common.
  5. Challenges: Last-mile delivery can be challenging due to traffic congestion, parking issues, narrow streets, and the need to make multiple stops, which can increase delivery costs and complexity.

Efficient last-mile delivery is crucial for businesses seeking to meet customer expectations, reduce delivery costs, and compete in the e-commerce industry. As a result, logistics and e-commerce companies are constantly exploring new technologies and strategies to optimise the last-mile delivery process, such as route optimisation software, autonomous vehicles, and alternative delivery methods, to ensure faster, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly service.

What is the Distance of Last-Mile Delivery

The distance of the last mile can vary significantly depending on the location of the end destination from the sorting hub, the specific delivery route, and the transportation method used. In some cases, it might be just a few blocks, while in others, it could be several miles or more.

But physical distance is only one of the challenges of the last-mile leg of a delivery journey. A short-distance delivery can become costly and time-consuming because of traffic congestion, multiple stops, and the need for precise, timely delivery.

First-Mile vs Last-Mile Delivery

Here is the difference between first-mile and last-mile delivery.

First Mile Last Mile
Definition First-mile delivery refers to the initial stage of the logistics process, where goods are picked up or collected from the manufacturer, supplier, or distribution centre to be transported to a central hub or distribution network. Last-mile delivery is the final stage of the logistics process, where goods are transported from a distribution hub or central location to the end consumer or recipient.
Distance and Scale First-mile delivery typically involves larger shipments over longer distances, as goods are collected from manufacturers or suppliers, often in bulk. Last-mile delivery Involves shorter distances, as goods are delivered directly to consumers’ homes or businesses. It often includes smaller, individual packages.
Delivery Speed First-mile delivery focuses on efficiency in collecting and consolidating goods. Speed is necessary but less critical than in last-mile delivery. Last-mile delivery requires quick and timely delivery to meet customer expectations. Speed is a top priority in this phase.
Cost First-mile delivery may have lower per-unit transportation costs since goods are often transported in bulk. However, it can be complex and costly in terms of logistics and inventory management. Last-mile delivery typically incurs higher per-unit transportation costs due to the need for individualised deliveries. It often faces challenges such as traffic congestion and the cost of the “final mile.”
Challenges First-mile delivery challenges include:

  • Coordinating pickups from multiple suppliers.
  • Managing inventory.
  • Optimising routes for bulk shipments.
Last-mile delivery challenges include

  • Traffic congestion.
  • The need for real-time tracking and communication.
  • The cost of individual deliveries.
  • The demand for speed and precision.
Technology and Solutions First-mile delivery may involve technology for tracking inventory, managing supplier relationships, and optimising transportation routes. Last-mile delivery relies heavily on technology, including route optimisation, GPS tracking, delivery apps, and customer communication tools to ensure timely and efficient deliveries.
Customer Experience First-mile delivery is generally not directly visible to the end customer, so this stage less impacts their experience. During Last-mile delivery, the customer’s experience is heavily influenced by last-mile delivery’s efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness.

Stages of a Delivery Journey from First-Mile to Last-Mile

Stage Description
First-Mile Collecting the parcels from the source, such as the manufacturer, supplier, or retailer. They are sent to a distribution centre for sorting.
Distribution Centre Sorting and consolidation at a distribution centre or warehouse to optimise long-distance transportation.
Line-Haul Long-distance transportation of parcels to a regional or local distribution hub near their end destination.
Hub Sorting Sorting and distributing parcels at a regional or local hub or sorting centre before last-mile delivery.
Last-Mile Last-mile delivery from the distribution centre or hub to the customer’s address. Utilises various transportation methods, including delivery trucks, vans, bicycles, or foot couriers.

How Luwjstik Helps

Luwjistik is a cutting-edge logistics platform solution designed to boost operational efficiency and foster connections between businesses and an extensive network of service providers. It simplifies selecting the ideal last-mile delivery partner, offering innovative strategies to reduce costs and improve delivery effectiveness.

Here’s how Luwjistik can assist you:

  • Unified API
    • Luwjistik’s Unified API streamlines your delivery operations by allowing integration with multiple delivery service providers through a single interface. It simplifies decision-making, making comparing and selecting the right last-mile partner easier.
  • Marketplace
    • Luwjistik’s Marketplace provides logistics service providers access to a diverse marketplace spanning 22 countries and featuring over 80 partners. This extensive network offers various last-mile options and transparent cost management, facilitating well-informed decision-making.
  • L-Control
    • Luwjistik’s L-Control offers businesses flexible control over cross-border services and volumes, incorporating modular and Smart Routing International (SRI) options. This flexibility aligns your delivery strategy with budget and profitability goals, optimising delivery routes and providing insights into the performance and capabilities of potential delivery providers.

To embark on a transformative journey and explore these strategic logistics solutions, please visit our website at or contact our representative at today.