The Evolving Role of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles in Last-Mile Delivery

  • 09 May 2024
  • 6 Min Read

In the last decade, there has been a paradigm shift in the way businesses function. Now, entrepreneurs are more inclusive in adopting sustainable practices to mitigate the impact of logistics on the environment. For the eCommerce industry finding and adopting innovative last-mile delivery solutions that can bring down greenhouse gas emissions has become a necessity. The adoption of sustainable delivery options such as electric vehicles or autonomous vehicles, not only lowers air and noise pollution but also reduces operational costs with smart delivery systems.

In fact, the greatest advantage of automated fleet management is, that it makes the system transparent with real-time visibility. It improves last-mile connectivity, as there is regular sharing of data pertaining to traffic restrictions or incidents, essentially highlighting both opportunities and challenges that can impact the movement of cargo. This shows the sincerity of retailers in achieving customer satisfaction and enhances customer relationships and loyalty.

Importance of Technological Advances in Logistics for Sustainable Last-Mile Delivery

The story of eCommerce retailing has undergone a major transformation post-COVID. Big and small businesses have found an assuring nestle in it for future mobility and connectivity with targeted customers, but it is highly dependent on autonomous integration of supply chain and logistics. In spite of several miraculous stories of high success rates through eCommerce retailing, the industry is infamous for adversely impacting the environment due to the high concentration and usage of delivery vans for on-time last-mile delivery in order fulfillment and staying ahead of the competition.

Synching of supply chain management operations has brought down much repetitive and labor-intensive work, however, one thing that needs to be streamlined and coordinated is logistics. The introduction of intelligent transportation systems helps in reducing emissions of gas in the environment, lowering fuel consumption, improving efficiency, optimizing the supply chain, and increasing revenue. Automated logistics allows intelligent segmentation of cargo on the basis of area, location, and quantity of demand. It also makes it easy to track and trace the movement of goods as each piece has a unique bar and codes to identify.

Technological advancements such as GPS, blockchain technology, automated fleet management, warehouse automation, virtual/augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, drones for delivery, and more such features enhance real-time tracking, data analytics, end-to-end visibility, automated notifications for customers and the management, and empowered communication for green last-mile solutions. It builds strong customer relationships. In a nutshell, logistics get more powerful and efficient to handle delivery at any time of the year.

Purpose for Transforming Warehouses with Augmented Reality

Last-mile delivery is the connectivity with the end customers and is the ice-breaker between the retailer and the customer. In the process of order fulfillment, there are many stages and one that is crucial in the chain is last-mile delivery. In the supply chain, it is the most challenging part as there is heavy fuel consumption in reaching the customer. Some of the challenges of last-mile distribution are really expensive and incur substantial losses for the retailer.

  • Locating the destination, without a proper geographical locator it is tough to reach the exact destination.
  • Failed deliveries, due to unavailability of customers or communication could not be established with the customer.
  • The cost of last-mile delivery is bigger than the movement of items from manufacture to warehouse to shipping. The reason being, that the delivery has to be done at an individual location and could not be clubbed with other orders unless there is sufficient data available about order requirements of a particular area.
  • Driver cost is also very high for last-mile delivery of packages.
  • Late or lost deliveries, customers sometimes receive orders much later than the expected time or orders never reach the destination.
  • Faulty route planning, when there is not enough data about demands, there cannot be efficient route planning. This not only increases costs but also ends up with delayed, lost, or failed deliveries. Route management is important to cut down costs, reduce fuel impact on the environment, and gain loyal customers.
  • Environmental issues, if there is no planning there is a very high consumption of fuel for reaching the final destination in a single order fulfillment. Customers want to connect with retailers who have sustainable packaging ways, use eco-friendly transportation, and do not misuse natural resources. Without proper planning, there is bound to be a major impact on the environment during last-mile delivery.
  • Competition, last-mile delivery is the only way to beat competition and stay ahead.

Future of Last-Mile Logistics and Logistics Automation

In view of increasing competition in eCommerce and to turn opportunities into profit during peak demand season, last-mile automation trends must be carefully patronized for the advantage of the business. Even if it might sound cliched, the future of last-mile logistics is with electric mobility solutions. EVs are a sustainable mode of transportation and are the future of green-mile logistics solutions. Some interesting and influencing last-mile delivery options leveraged by logistics automation are—

  • Autonomous Vehicles: Independent driver-less vehicles are the future of last-mile logistics as these are cost-effective, have lower environmental impact, are more efficient with delivery, have greater flexibility with delivery options, and are safer than those controlled by tired drivers.
  • Electric Delivery Vans: Mobilizing electric delivery vans for last-mile delivery can prove to be quite beneficial. These have low maintenance, can maneuver themselves till the last-mile delivery point, and can be monitored by the management as well as customers in real-time.
  • Autonomous Delivery Robots: Logistics automation makes it easy to handle autonomous delivery robots and drones. These robots can be monitored and controlled remotely by operators.
  • 3PLs: It is a more sustainable way of last-mile delivery. Crowdsourcing or partnering with logistics companies that have more defined and efficient route planning can bring down operational costs and reduce gas emissions in the environment. Automation of logistics can easily help with the monitoring of items and give real-time visibility.
  • Buy Online, Pick up In-store (BOPIS): Automation empowers tracing and tracking, customers can choose the option of buying online and picking up from the store as sustainable delivery options.

With the evolution of electric and autonomous vehicles, last-mile delivery is becoming more independent and sustainable. Ecommerce is working with delivery partners to discover new ideas for automated fleet management.

Advatix Cloudsuite™ Delivery Management Software for Zero Last-Mile Delivery Challenges

We offer automated logistics solutions to our customers for fleet management, route optimization, route planning, scan-based sortation for 100% accuracy, multi-modal optimization, and more.

We offer automated logistics solutions to our customers for fleet management, route optimization, route planning, scan-based sortation for 100% accuracy, multi-modal optimization, and more.