Last Mile Is The Poster Child For Retail's Shift

Last Mile Is The Poster Child For Retail's Shift

Businesses have moved on from “let's just get through 2020” and must now focus on delivering value through their last-mile delivery operations in a new world, said Chris Kina, analyst with consultancy Gartner.

“This is an undeniably transformational shift in retail commerce and the last-mile evolution is the poster child for that movement,” he wrote in a recent blog entry. “Last-mile practitioners need to accept and act on that transformational reality.”

Kina noted the increase in parcel volumes and demands being placed on lead times as particular challenges to fulfillment operations.

“Add in consumer buying behavioral changes, specifically the permanent shift in shopping via online, curbside and pickup in store versus a trip to the mall and you get significantly more complicated logistics fulfillment operations as a result,” he wrote.

To effectively identify the challenges, though, Kina said a definition of last-mile order fulfillment must be agreed upon. For his analysis, he defined it “as the process by which a consumer and the products they order come together. That includes customer collection, delivery options and customer expectations regarding service and experience.”

In a Gartner survey on last-mile strategies of 407 retailers, 44% said that product packaging and suitability for last-mile delivery were concerns. Another 43% said access to infrastructure in urban markets was a challenge and 40% cited changing consumer demands or requirements.

Kina referenced the survey, noting that consumers seem more willing to sacrifice same-day and next-day delivery in the name of sustainability.

“There is a movement by the consumer to slower, cheaper and consolidated fulfillment processes that address their sustainability preferences,” he wrote. “Although there will always …

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