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What Are Last-Mile Logistics and Why Are They Important?

When products have long journeys from origin to destination, it’s hard to imagine that the last mile of the trek is important. In fact, many people would consider that stretch unimportant. After all, the shipment is almost there.

However, last-mile logistics play a critical role in the success of deliveries—both from the customer’s perspective and the point of view of the company shipping the products.

A Simple Change in Last-Mile Practices Saves Millions of Gallons of Fuel

To prove that last-mile logistics positively influence deliveries, consider the case of UPS. It’s been reported that years ago, the company identified a simple way to save fuel and, as a result, drive more profit to its bottom line. By having its drivers avoid left turns (and waiting for traffic to clear so they can make those turns), UPS saves millions of gallons of fuel annually. And the cost savings are just the beginning.

Less time waiting to turn left means more minutes for making deliveries. Consequently, one driver can reach more businesses or homes per day. Even if it’s just a few added stops, the benefit across the company’s massive delivery operation is huge.

Then, of course, there are the environmental benefits of less time idling and emitting pollutants while making left turns. Here again, the difference in one vehicle’s daily emissions may be small, but the benefit across tens of thousands of vehicles is significant. And being able to tout the advantages can earn UPS praise from environmentalists.

So, while that’s just one real-world example, the fact is that last-mile logistics are extremely important.

The Origin of Last-Mile Awareness

While last-mile logistics are critical for companies delivering materials and products, the awareness of the importance of the “homestretch” didn’t originate in the transportation industry. The concept was first recognized in the telecommunications industry.

Companies became aware that getting a line from its point of origin to within…

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