A future vision of logistics – the battle for the last mile

The more we buy online, the more gets delivered, and we want it delivered faster.

Amazon have set the bar and we can pretty much anticipate the normalisation of 1 hour delivery for goods bought online. And it will incrementally come to be.

Other courier companies are catching up though, with many offering services like same day delivery, driving innovation further forwards. But for the 1-hour delivery to become standardised, and we can assume it will as it is the market drives it, a lot needs to happen behind the scenes.

Will it ultimately become a contest of sorts: In the blue corner, Amazon, with the optimisation of distribution at scale with end to end service using end to end systems… In the red corner, local retail supported by optimised local delivery, the likes of Deliveroo, and the one who could probably take it all, Uber for everything.

Then there’s another challenger, the next generation of competition, driverless electric vehicles, robo couriors, they’ll be here within a decade for sure, it’s past the tipping point of inevitability. There’s always going to be a market for ‘non drone’ deliveries, done by human… or will there? We think of delivery drones flying, but that’s less likely than ones that use the existing roads. Does Deliveroo even have a future ten years from now? Or will those cyclists and all other cycle couriers be replaced by road drones, able to carry more, quicker, more efficiently, cheaper, safer.

But then it’s going to be all about the last five meters. How to get the burger into the road drone. How the road drone goes into the block of flats and brings the burger to the door. I guess I’ll just have to come downstairs myself. Or use a human.

A future vision of logistics – the battle for the last mile. The more we buy online, the more gets delivered, and we want it delivered faster.
Regardless, the last mile is a going to be a battlefield, and as ever, the safest part is behind the lines. Which is where the other big battle is taking place. Not against competition, but against inertia of an industry which doesn’t like to adopt half solutions. The correct ideal solution for any distribution process is perfect end to end automation, which in logistics means it has to be able to respond to real time everything, including the traffic and the weather.
The reward for getting such a solution in place is the ability to outcompete on speed and price, to scaleup, to reduce inefficiencies, and to be able to keep up with demand, the ever present demand for more distribution, sooner, quicker.

The sweet spot, commercially, in this situation, is probably behind the scenes, developing the software that enables the most efficient movement of goods within the evolving distribution networks. Which is where PIE Mapping seem to be positioning themselves rather successfully.

Having said that, whatever comes next is going to be replaced by whatever comes after it. The important thing is to make sure the thing after the next thing is always your thing as well. It’s a volatile future where the best tech wins. Helps to be in the right place though.


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