Last Mile Delivery Problem: Can Intermodal Trucking Solve It?

What is the “last mile” problem in logistics?

In logistics, the “last mile” is the final stage in the transportation process in which goods travel from the warehouse or distribution center to the consumer. 

In the last couple of years, the number of online purchases has grown substantially. In 2022, U.S. retail eCommerce sales are expected to exceed one trillion dollars, which is a 16% increase from 2021.  In 2022, eCommerce is expected to reach 21% of retail sales worldwide. This is up from 13.8% in 2019. 

In addition to more frequently choosing to shop online, consumers increasingly prioritize even more expeditious delivery times. A worldwide survey conducted in 2021 showed that faster delivery ranked as the top aspect that online shoppers would change about their eCommerce experiences. In 2021, another global survey showed that 46% of eCommerce shoppers expect items to be delivered in 2-3 days, and 30% of eCommerce shoppers expect items to be delivered within 24 hours. In the United States, the same day delivery market has almost doubled since 2019 and is expected to reach 15.6 billion dollars by 2024. 

The explosion of eCommerce has transformed supply chains and transportation networks. The rise in demand has forced companies to seek fast and efficient transportation solutions. Logistics operations are under pressure to expand service, particularly for the final step in delivery that brings goods to consumers’ front doors. 

In the consumer goods industry, last-mile logistics are a new and immense challenge. Within the entire supply chain, the last mile is the least efficient stage. The final portion of shipment usually involves many stops, and each stop has a low delivery volume. The last mile poses many challenges for companies and brands. Consumers want free and fast shipping, but providing that is the most expensive and challenging aspect of the logistics process. 

One tactic companies are employing to address the last mile challenge is to move the distribution centers closer to the customers, particularly in dense urban areas. While strategically placed distribution centers are critical, companies still need logistics solutions to solve the last mile problem. 

How Intermodal Trucking Can Solve the Last Mile Problem

Intermodal transport is the combination of two or more forms of transportation to move cargo. The methods of transportation include trucks, ships, trains, and aircraft. 

Intermodal trucking is a specific type of intermodal freight transportation where the first and last segment of the journey is conducted on a truck, while the middle portions of the journey occur over water, rail, or air. Intermodal trucking fills in the gaps between other forms of transportation. Intermodal trucking is an important logistics solution, and it is explored in detail in this guide

Intermodal trucking last mile is the way that goods are transported from distribution centers to the final destination, which is often at the customer’s doorstep. While trucks are capable of transporting freight long distances, and often do, they are uniquely capable of delivering goods over short distances. In fact, out of all the intermodal methods, trucks are the only means of transportation that can travel directly to residential addresses. 

To solve the last mile delivery problem, companies need to use intermodal last mile trucking. Intermodal trucking allows for relatively large volumes of cargo to be transported, while also balancing the need for agility and flexibility. Many technology innovations are emerging to support the tasks of intermodal transport last mile. With intermodal trucking, delivery routes can be optimized to dramatically reduce delivery times. Routes can adjust to traffic or other travel disruptions in real-time, and drivers can be empowered to make strategic decisions on the road. These capabilities improve delivery times, increase security of the cargo, and save money on fuel and labor. The intermodal trucks can be tracked to provide customers with delivery updates. This communication reinforces the security of the goods, pleases the customers, and ensures the customers will be available to receive the delivery. With the increasing development and integration of automation, intermodal trucking will continue to offer solutions to the last mile challenge. 

There are many different intermodal trucking companies, and it is critical to choose the best freight logistics specialist to oversee your last mile deliveries. The freight logistic coordinator must have extensive relationships with terminals, understand how to liaise between customers and transportation modalities, and have the most up-to-date technology to keep the cargo safe. With over 60 years of experience, QFS is a global leader in intermodal trucking. With skillfully trained drivers, sophisticated tracking technology, and meticulously maintained fleets, QFS is an expert in ensuring customers receive their products on time and in perfect condition. Shipping rates are competitive, so you always get the best deal. Customer service is exceptional and every detail is carefully considered. To streamline your cargo transportation needs, contact QFS today!