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The Longest Yard

Forget the last mile. One of today's biggest fulfillment challenges is the short trip from the delivery truck to one of dozens—or hundreds—of possible delivery spots in a building, a plant, a hospital or a campus. The shortest distance could be the longest yard of a delivery.

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This is an excerpt of the original article. It was written for the September-October 2019 edition of Supply Chain Management Review. The full article is available to current subscribers.

September-October 2019

It’s that time of year again, when we feature the Top 25 supply chains from Gartner. What I enjoy most about this research is the window it provides into where supply chains are going next: After all, while some lead, the rest of us follow.
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For years, logistics professionals have referred to the final leg of the order delivery process as the last mile. It has always been important, but as the volume of e-commerce orders rises exponentially, last-mile logistics has taken on increased significance for delivery service providers, and is now front and center in the minds of shippers. After all, today’s savvy online shoppers will no longer tolerate slow and inconvenient delivery offerings. Instead, they expect the timely and inexpensive delivery of their orders to their doorsteps. Fulfillment is a competitive differentiator among the best companies.

The good news is that last-mile capabilities have come a long way and continue to improve. Customers now have a variety of delivery options from which to choose, including traditional, next-day and even same-day delivery in urban areas, and they can track their packages from the sellers’ point-of-fulfillment all the way to their shipping address.

The bad news: While the ship-to address may mark the end of the last mile, in many instances, it is the beginning of the last yard. That’s the distance from the shipping address to a pickup location at that address, which is often a blind spot in the delivery process. As a result, many customers end up going to a pick-up point after seeing that their package was “delivered” on their carrier’s tracking service, only to discover that their package is nowhere to be found. This type of incident underscores the fact that failures in the last yard may negate the goodwill created by shippers and delivery service providers that deliver shipments considered “on-time and complete” as per customer requirements. The last yard could be the longest yard.

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Sorry, but your login has failed. Please recheck your login information and resubmit. If your subscription has expired, renew here.

From the September-October 2019 edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

September-October 2019

It’s that time of year again, when we feature the Top 25 supply chains from Gartner. What I enjoy most about this research is the window it provides into where supply chains are going next: After all, while some…
Browse this issue archive.
Access your online digital edition.
Download a PDF file of the September-October 2019 issue.

Download Article PDF

For years, logistics professionals have referred to the final leg of the order delivery process as the last mile. It has always been important, but as the volume of e-commerce orders rises exponentially, last-mile logistics has taken on increased significance for delivery service providers, and is now front and center in the minds of shippers. After all, today's savvy online shoppers will no longer tolerate slow and inconvenient delivery offerings. Instead, they expect the timely and inexpensive delivery of their orders to their doorsteps. Fulfillment is a competitive differentiator among the best companies.

The good news is that last-mile capabilities have come a long way and continue to improve. Customers now have a variety of delivery options from which to choose, including traditional, next-day and even same-day delivery in urban areas, and they can track their packages from the sellers' point-of-fulfillment all the way to their shipping address.

The bad news: While the ship-to address may mark the end of the last mile, in many instances, it is the beginning of the last yard. That's the distance from the shipping address to a pickup location at that address, which is often a blind spot in the delivery process. As a result, many customers end up going to a pick-up point after seeing that their package was “delivered” on their carrier's tracking service, only to discover that their package is nowhere to be found. This type of incident underscores the fact that failures in the last yard may negate the goodwill created by shippers and delivery service providers that deliver shipments considered “on-time and complete” as per customer requirements. The last yard could be the longest yard.

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