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    5.765
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  • NTI.USA
    2.910
    0.000
    0%
  • NTID.USA
    2.900
    -0.090
    -3%
  • NTIDL.USA
    2.010
    -0.090
    -4.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.190
    -0.220
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  • OTVI.USA
    11,406.010
    -45.940
    -0.4%
  • DTS.USA
    5.765
    -0.008
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  • NTI.USA
    2.910
    0.000
    0%
  • NTID.USA
    2.900
    -0.090
    -3%
  • NTIDL.USA
    2.010
    -0.090
    -4.3%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.190
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    -3%
  • OTVI.USA
    11,406.010
    -45.940
    -0.4%
Last MileLast-mile deliveryModern ShipperNewsTop Stories

The future of the final mile is bright

What’s in store for last mile in 2022?

As the final cog in the massive supply chain machine, the last mile has been a hub of innovation and turmoil amid pandemic-driven disruptions. The final leg of logistics has been regarded for years as a cost base rather than a revenue driver, but it’s finally getting its time in the limelight as retailers and carriers increasingly place the last mile under the microscope.

What’s in store for the last leg of logistics in 2022? We’ll be exploring that and a range of other industry questions at The Future of Supply Chain, a FreightWaves in-person experience. To join us on May 9-10, 2022 at the Rogers Convention Center in Northwest Arkansas, register here.


Read: 5 reasons to attend FreightWaves’ Future of Supply Chain event


The last mile will be fast –– within minutes fast. Products have been moving at the speed of Prime ever since Amazon unveiled the superfast delivery option in 2005, but they’re only getting faster.

Retailers large and small are leveraging distribution and fulfillment centers to map their inventories directly onto their customers’ locations, enabling carriers like UPS and the Postal Service to offer deliveries in hours rather than days.

Some companies are thinking even faster. A bevy of startups including Jokr, Gorillas and Getir are getting down to the minute, delivering food and groceries in less than a half hour. Even bigger players like DoorDash and Instacart are getting involved, rolling out deliveries in under 15 minutes.

The last mile will be flexible. Fulfillment is no longer a monolith: Retailers are offering a slew of options allowing consumers to receive their products the way they want to, services like same-day curbside pickup, buy online pick up in store, home delivery and more. Some retailers are even allowing customers to fly their orders in by drone.

White-label delivery services like Walmart Go Local and Fulfillment by Amazon are allowing retailers to leverage added delivery capacity, injecting their fleets with additional vans and drivers to meet the flexible expectations of consumers. That flexibility is also a two-way street, with more brands placing an emphasis on product returns and reverse logistics.


Watch: Success in last mile delivery happens in the final 100 feet


The last mile will be automated. Gone are the days of fleet operators mapping out routes by hand. Today, all of that manual work is done by software that generates optimal delivery routes based upon mountains of tracking and inventory data.

And it won’t just be routing and tracking that gets automated. Trucks and delivery vans are already beginning to drive themselves as more retailers and carriers partner with autonomous fleet providers like Gatik and Nuro.

The last mile will be sustainable. The transportation industry accounted for a staggering 29% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That may not be the case for very long as retailers with sustainability and ESG initiatives look to overhaul their supply chains.

Countless fleet manufacturers have embraced sustainable features like zero-emissions trips, carbon-negative deliveries and electric-powered motors as logistics seeks to lessen its carbon footprint, while drone delivery promises an environmentally friendly alternative to ground-based last mile supply lines.

The last mile will be a lot of things. But it will not be going away in the minds of retailers, carriers and consumers.

You may also like:

Last mile is the poster child for retail’s shift

Modern Shipper Top 10: Last-mile delivery

Target planning logistics overhaul for 2022

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes UPS (No. 2).

Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.