National courier services like Purolator, UPS, FedEx and others can provide competitive prices for provincial and national shipping when you have the right configurations. Over the last few years, many innovative local solutions have emerged for last mile delivery, such as bicycle delivery, safety deposit boxes or electric vehicle fleets, but these solutions end up being stand alone and do not integrate with the overall national services. There are many ways that this could happen and we will explore a few in this post.
Last mile delivery is the final link in the supply chain that delivers parcels from the carrier facility to the requested destination. It is often the most expensive and inefficient part of the delivery process, accounting for 53% of the total cost of shipping and 41% of total supply chain costs. It also has a significant environmental impact, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion and noise pollution.
Sustainable last mile delivery aims to reduce these negative effects by using eco-friendly methods and technologies that can lower costs, emissions and delivery time. Some of these methods include:
1. Local fulfillment centers
These are small warehouses located close to urban areas that can store inventory and fulfill orders quickly. They can reduce the distance and time required for last mile delivery, as well as lower transportation costs and emissions. For example, Amazon has opened several local fulfillment centers across Canada, including in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. At a smaller scale, Wiptec in Sherbrooke, QC, operates a few order processing centers in Quebec serving clients across the country. Many similar pick and pack solutions are emerging and should be considered to reduce long distance shipping of individual packages.
2. Technology Solutions
Delivery companies can also leverage technology solutions to optimize their delivery operations and reduce their costs. For example, they can use route optimization software to plan the most efficient delivery routes to save fuel, reduce emissions and reduce the number of delivery vehicles required. They can also use real-time tracking and monitoring systems to improve the visibility and accountability of their delivery operations, reducing the risk of lost or stolen packages and improve customer satisfaction. Another simple action involves combining shipments to reduce the number of pickups at your location on a given day and avoiding pickups from multiple carriers.
3. Joint delivery systems
These are collaborative networks of delivery companies that share resources and infrastructure to optimize last mile delivery. They can reduce costs, emissions and traffic by consolidating deliveries from different sources and using fewer vehicles. For example, Purolator, Canada Post and UPS have partnered to create a joint delivery system called PUDOpoint Counters, which allows customers to pick up and drop off parcels at convenient locations such as convenience stores and gas stations. This type of approach is an ideal solution to combine local specialized and sustainable solutions with long distance
4. Smart solutions
These are innovative solutions that use technology to enhance last mile delivery. They can include bicycles, drones, robots, electric vehicles, lockers, smart sensors and artificial intelligence. They can offer faster, cheaper and greener delivery options for customers and businesses. For example, Drone Delivery Canada, a Canadian drone logistics company, has launched several pilot projects to deliver medical supplies, e-commerce packages and food items to remote communities in Canada using drones.
Overall, by leveraging collaborations, shared infrastructure, renewable energy, and technology solutions, sustainable last mile delivery companies can integrate with national courier services and provide low-cost nationwide service. This can help reduce the environmental impact of logistics operations while providing affordable and efficient delivery services to customers across the country.
Sustainable last mile delivery is not only a trend but a necessity in today’s world. It can offer competitive advantages for businesses and benefits for society. As more consumers demand fast, convenient and eco-friendly delivery options, sustainable last mile delivery will become the new norm for the future of logistics.