Innovating the Last Mile

One of the conundrums of the age of e-commerce is the so-called “last mile” problem, getting a delivery from the local depot to the actual delivery address. In the case of residential deliveries, this has not just VMT impacts, but also impacts on neighborhood livability.

I see Fedex, UPS and DHL trucks on my local street pretty much daily.

Of course, the good old United States Postal Service has been doing the last mile thing for several centuries.

Which brings me to an innovative technique that seems to be using.

If I’m reading the labels on my packages right, Amazon is using one of the delivery companies to get my books to my local post office, then having the postal service deliver them to my home.

This strikes me as a fantastic hybrid solution.

Does anyone know of other similar hybrid delivery schemes? The core concept would seem to be to consolidate shipments with a single ‘local’ delivery service for the final delivery.

This is a variation on an idea the Dutch were working on when I visited the Netherlands last year – centralized neighborhood delivery depots (possibly automated) where you could go (possibly by bike or on foot) to retrieve your packages – also solving the problem of no one being home to receive the package.

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