What Is Last Mile Tracking and How Can It Benefit Carrier Fleets?

Few would argue that providing last mile delivery services wouldn’t improve customer satisfaction. But without last mile tracking, a carrier could quickly find its supply chain in disarray. Retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Ahold Delhaize have raised the bar for customer expectations. They expect greater autonomy, more accurate tracking information, same-day delivery, next-day delivery, and curbside pickup.

Even more, customers demand near-real-time SMS/text updates on their orders, want to be alerted of delays, and desire to have flexible/local drop-off options. The increased logistical complexity that comes with last mile delivery means that carriers must have complete visibility into their fleets, which obliges the investment in solutions that can track every move in a shipment’s journey.

Last Mile Delivery Revenue by Mobility Mode

The following table compares worldwide revenue generated from last mile delivery services between 2022 and 2030 by mobility mode.

Table 1: Last Mile Delivery Revenue by Mobility Mode (US$ Billions: 2022 and 2030

A table that forecasts the revenue generated from each last mile delivery mobility mode between 2022 and 2030

What Is Last Mile Tracking?

Last mile carrier tracking is the process of tracking the fulfillment, shipping, and proof of delivery of a package in the final mile of a shipment’s journey. Although, this takes a rather broad approach. For example, ABI Research defines the "last mile" as the transportation of goods within 9 miles of the destination.

Understanding exactly where a package is located promotes greater transparency into logistical operations for carriers and a superior delivery experience for the end customer. In today’s world, last mile tracking requires precise Estimated Times of Arrival (ETAs) because of stricter customer demands.

To illustrate, a recent OptimoRoute survey found that 87.4% of consumers think real-time tracking status makes the delivery experience more enjoyable.

Optimizing the Route

Advanced route optimization is a way for supply chain operators to reduce miles traveled and idle time associated with last mile delivery. Dynamic route optimization technologies track things like the number of fleet vehicles in use, fuel costs, toll booths, multiple stops, and specific vehicle shortcomings—then provide ETAs with pinpoint accuracy. Just as important, these technologies can compute as many as 100 million routes in less than 30 seconds.

Open Systems for Last Mile Tracking

While open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs) are excellent across transportation, fulfillment, and other supply chain processes, only a few companies have leveraged these solutions until now. When advanced algorithms are molded into fleet telematics, transit time can be tracked and route optimization is improved. Pulled track and trace data include the following:

  • Real-time road conditions
  • Highly precise traffic situations
  • Route suggestions
  • Geographical coordinates for addresses
  • Target arrival time for package delivery

Advanced Location Intelligence

To maximize the number of last mile deliveries made, accurate ETAs are an absolute must for tracking capabilities.

To generate accurate ETAs, location visibility needs to be flawless. For this reason, advanced location intelligence providers will have an invaluable role to play as supply chain leaders look for better ways to track shipments within the final mile.

For example, advanced location intelligence permits the use of custom location extensions that adapt to specific Points of Interest (POIs) and area content. Or maybe a retail company wants to facilitate geofencing capacity that tracks mobile assets inside selected geographic parameters. Advanced location intelligence helps notify warehouses before an asset/order arrives, while also signaling to consumers and businesses about delivery updates.

ABI Research expects hybrid positioning systems to be a big part of providing end-to-end supply chain visibility for logistics carriers.

Fleet Tracking Platforms for Last Mile Delivery

A centralized software platform is where final mile fleet carriers retrieve all the tracking information about the delivery process and monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). From the moment an order is picked in a warehouse/distribution center, to the moment it’s delivered, a fleet telematics platform tracks all the movements.

Many platforms, l like HyperTrack, automate many of the last mile tracking processes, such as order fulfillment and dispatching local drivers. With cyberattacks running rampant nowadays, data security, access control, experience, and reputation are key differentiating factors in product selection.

Monitoring Driver Behavior

While monitoring drivers can feel like an invasion of privacy, it’s seen as a crucial step toward an optimal last mile delivery process. Safety is at the heart of driver monitoring because drivers feel more pressure than ever to meet tight delivery windows, which often leads to reckless driving.

Road accidents caused by last mile delivery drivers can lead to expensive lawsuits and can even close down a fleet. By tracking driver behavior, such as acceleration, speeding, and aggressive turns, logistics managers can identify who needs training in order to prevent a future incident that deteriorates the brand’s image.

Last Mile Tracking Is All about Enhancing the Customer Experience

The biggest concerns affecting last mile delivery tracking include shorter shipment timelines, profitability outlook, scaling, and alternative delivery service options. Adding to this, the final leg of the shipment journey accounts for more than half of global shipping costs.

In order to accommodate consumer expectations and keep supply chain costs low, logistics carriers must be equipped with final mile tracking solutions that provide end-to-end visibility. If an issue arises, customers expect a two-way communication channel to resolve the issue.

There are numerous data points to leverage that will make operations run more smoothly and provide considerable transparency to customers (e.g., tracking apps). Not only does last mile tracking help operators optimize their services, but it strengthens the customer-brand bond—begetting higher retention.

To learn more, download ABI Research’s Last Mile Delivery Trends and Critical Enabling Technologies research report.

And if you're interested in a visual guide on the latest research into last mile delivery tracking, download the infographic below.

Infographic for Last Mile Delivery 

Here's an informative infographic we put together, which compiles some of the most revealing stats final mile logistics carriers should know about. Some of the covered areas include the two-wheeler installed base, journey miles generated, segmented expectations, and the growth of robotics-as-a-service.

Download the Last Mile Delivery Stats Carriers Should Know Infographic

Infographic with stats about last mile delivery. These stats can be used for carriers that wish to provide last mile services and need to track their shipments.

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