Why the Last Mile is the First Place For Innovation

With so much shopping being done online, there are more trucks on the road than ever before. This is especially true in urban areas where package delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, and the US Post Office are making those last-mile deliveries to homes and apartments. In addition to more street congestion, apartment buildings are facing a situation where packages are starting to fill the hallways. In many cases, this can create a fire hazard, or at least be an inconvenience for residents—and apartment front offices do not want their spaces filled with packages, either.

In cities like New York, where people are up and about day and night, nighttime delivery is a real possibility. Bicycle delivery services can also deliver smaller packages fairly easily without increasing congestion. These two options can at least reduce traffic, even if they do not solve the hallway problem.

Increasingly, independent last-mile solutions have sprouted up across the country. What most have in common is a storage location that can handle the influx of packages and deliver them at a customer’s convenience.

One solution is Fetch Package, Inc., a package storage and delivery service based in Texas that accepts packages at local warehouses, then provides scheduled, door-to-door delivery to residents. Its solution, then, is to contact recipients and meet them at the door when it is convenient for the person to receive it at their address.

Another option is suggested by Position Imaging out of Portsmouth, NH: the creation of “smart package rooms,” where people can go get their package after being texted a code. This would likely take up less room than Amazon’s idea of lockers for packages, though that is certainly a viable option.

There are also possibilities in the crowdsourcing sector. Think Uber, but for delivery. This not only brings us back to the possibility of bicycles, but also people using their own vehicles to bring a few packages into their neighborhoods, or even a renter using his or her own apartment to keep packages safe and out of the hallway until you can pick them up. Companies like Instacart and Postmates are already using this model to deliver packages, and it is likely the shipping industry will see more soon.

Drones are also an increasingly likely possibility for covering that last mile. When drones become a popular delivery service, though, it will not help apartment overflow. A possible solution could be rooftop mailboxes. This solves several problems at once. It would certainly be much easier for drones to deliver to rooftop mailboxes and having mailboxes on apartment building rooftops would certainly eliminate the problem of packages piling up in hallways.

The popularity of e-commerce is creating several problems with package delivery which are being solved by entrepreneurial alertness. The final mile of delivery has always been the most expensive and the most logistically challenging, but new innovations are changing the norms in the way people receive packages.

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