Google has launched a Last Mile Fleet Solution product to provide fleets operating in urban areas with an improved delivery service.
Using the Google Maps platform, Last Mile promises to optimize across every stage of the last mile delivery journey. It enables: capturing valid addresses, planning delivery routes, efficiently navigating drivers, tracking shipment progress, and analyzing fleet performance.
Google says it's also scaleable, enabling fleets to grow their delivery service using the fleet tool. Adding Cloud Fleet Routing API from Google Cloud offers fleets advanced fleet-wide dynamic routing capabilities as well.
Data from the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index says e-commerce shipments are on track to double by 2026. From its latest 2020 data review, U.S. deliveries grew 37% year-on-year; U.K. deliveries grew 33% year-on-year; and France plus 18%.
It points to last-mile delivery becoming an increasingly important area for fleets to manage as the convenience of home delivery — given further impetus by the pandemic — grows in importance.
Centre for London — a think-tank for the capital city — said that its Environment & Transport report found that the number of parcels delivered in London was expected to double by 2030.
The paper called for a more sustainable and efficient roadmap for last-mile deliveries, not only to reduce environmental emissions, but to make the number of last-mile delivery vehicles manageable.
Paack Logistics is a leading courier in last-mile logistics, promising a great consumer delivery experience thanks to what it calls “perfectly synchronized logistics.” The company has been using Last Mile Logistics in beta.
Olivier Colinet, chief technology & product officer of Paack Logistics, commented: “At Paack, we are obsessed with helping some of the largest e-commerce retailers in Europe create exceptional delivery experiences for the millions of orders they receive each month. To scale quickly, we adopted Last Mile Fleet Solution and Cloud Fleet Routing API which enables our drivers and fleet managers to maintain peak efficiency and go beyond our 98% on-time, first time delivery rates.”
Google says that its Last Mile Fleet Solution is now in public preview for companies that directly manage or own their delivery fleet.
what3words Pinpoints Exact Locations
There are other options for fleets for more efficient last-mile deliveries than Google, however DPD (part of DPDgroup, Europe’s largest parcel delivery network) has commenced using what3words for deliveries in the U.K.
what3words helps pinpoint locations with absolute accuracy. It divides the world into 3m x 3m squares and gives each square a unique combination of three words. what3words says it's an easy way to find, share, and navigate to precise locations, anywhere in the world.
DPD says parcel customers can now add their what3words address in the ‘delivery preferences’ section of its app, so that the delivery drivers know they will arrive at the exact building entrance, doorstep, or tucked-away side passage specified by the parcel customer.
The delivery company says that it improves delivery accuracy for a number of reasons: addresses aren't always accurate; postcodes (zip codes) often cover broad areas rather than specific locations, and access to some buildings may not always be clear. And for new builds, it can take up to six months for the address to be registered. Poor and inaccurate addressing can also add difficulties for couriers.
Elaine Kerr, CEO of DPD UK, added: "Our drivers do an amazing job delivering the vast majority of parcels to the correct address, first time, often going above and beyond to work out where harder to find locations are. We use the best technology available to make their job easier, and what3words is an incredibly smart solution. In addition to helping us deliver to new housing estates and remote cottages, there are significant gains from more effective fleet routing and reducing unnecessary mileage. As a UK leader in smart, green delivery, this is a very welcome addition to our award-winning service."
These new technologies to help fleets make last mile deliveries more efficient are part of what consultancy firm PwC says are the three key market trends affecting the sector:
- The customer requirement for reliable, fast, responsive and flexible delivery times that fit around their schedules;
- Investment by retailers and technology companies to provide last mile offerings since barriers to entry are deemed low;
- And an increased focus by regulatory bodies on environmental policies, such as emissions targets and other environmental focused regulations.
PwC goes on to say that those three factors, combined with volume growth and market pressures, have accelerated the need for traditional last mile carriers to transform and digitize their operations to remain competitive.
“With so much data and new technologies available, being able to interpret the data, maintain flexibility and complete proof of concepts quickly to learn and fail fast is imperative.”
It means there is no let up for fleets to continually reassess and reconfigure how and with what sort of vehicles they will continue to deliver in the last mile.