Last Mile Logistics

The logistics of the last mile

Last mile logistics or “logistics of the last mile” presents major challenges for service providers within the supply chain. The last mile means the transport of goods to the customer’s doorstep.

The problems associated with this last mile mainly affect courier, express and parcel services. These are instructed by the online mail order companies to deliver the parcels. The core of this problem lies in the development of e-commerce over the past few years. E-commerce has been growing steadily for years and this is accompanied by new record values ​​for parcel shipments. Last year in particular, there was a big increase due to the global pandemic. Customers order goods from their home PC directly to their doorstep, thus presenting delivery services with major challenges in terms of parcel delivery and economical route planning.

The companies naturally want to keep their delivery costs as low as possible and strive to run routes quickly and efficiently and to bundle the shipments. If the customer is not on site to receive the package and the delivery has to be repeated, new costs will arise.

There are now some concepts that can be used to defuse the problem of the last mile.

  • One approach brings the customer to the goods:
    The customer can pick up his goods in a parcel shop that is conveniently located for him (e.g. in a shopping centre or at the gas station) or in a parcel locker available 24/7.
  • Another approach brings the goods to the customer:
    This approach is based on increased communication between customer and delivery service. The customer can, for example, select a time slot for delivery when ordering so that the delivery tours can be planned optimally. If the customers phone number is also available, a new appointment can be made immediately if the delivery is unsuccessful.

How Berlin manages the last mile
The city of Berlin has found a successful approach to tackling the last mile issue in the area of ​​print articles (e.g. newspapers, flyers, brochures). The company BERLIN LASTMILE has been active in the delivery sector for over 25 years and has specialized in efficient logistics solutions. The company coordinates 3,000 delivery drivers who deliver around the clock to around 1.8 million households in Berlin. The whole process is coordinated from 9 company logistics points and main handling bases (HUBs). In this way, the optimal delivery routes can be created and the items arrive at their destination via the shortest and fastest route.

Berlin is also testing the following approaches in further pilot projects:

  • City hubs:
    Shipments for the immediate vicinity can be deposited in a city hub. The distances between the hub and the recipient are short and can be mastered with (e-) cargo bikes, hand trucks or low-emission vehicles. Large delivery vehicles no longer have to drive to the customers front door. City hubs can also be supplied at night. This reduces traffic congestion and has the potential to reduce noise and pollution in cities.
  • Tram:
    Subway and tram are to be used for the transport of goods. As traffic in the cities increases, it can make sense to see the tram as an efficient mode of transport that brings goods from transhipment centres in the suburbs to the city centre.
  • Delivery robot or logistics drone:
    Deutsche Post has already tested whether parcels weighing up to 150 kg can also be delivered by a robot and have come to a good result. The robot accompanies the deliverer at walking pace and relieves the employees of the physically demanding work.

Logistics drones offer the possibility of moving deliveries from the road into the airspace and deliver parcels quickly and cleanly.

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Cf. Berlin Lastmile, Berlin Lastmile stellt zu was die Hauptstadt bewegt. accessed 11.02.2021

Cf. Bundesvereinigung Logistik, Urbane Logistik 2018, accessed 11.02.2021

Cf. Welt der Logitsik, Letzte Meile: fährt in Berlin bald die Strassenbahn Pakete und Waren aus? accessed 11.02.2021

Cf. Deutschland mobil 2030, Neue Lösungen für den innerstädtischen Lieferverkehr, accessed 11.02.2021

Cf. DB Schenker, Berliner City-Hub: Güter-Trambahn ins Glück?, accessed 11.02.2021