Delivery

Last Mile, Last Few Feet Means Thinking In Bulk For Delivery Players

The new mantra in last mile might be: Go big or go home. And it might be enough to change how some of the marquee names in delivery deliver more than just the goods.

Think service with a bit of the sweat that comes from lugging really heavy stuff up stairs and into elevators, through the hallway and right onto the threshold of an office or apartment.

The bulkiest of items, from furniture like couches to electronics like TVs to, well, any number of tangible goods, now will get more personalized attention while firms jockey for position along the last mile.

The service is known as “white glove” and goes beyond what parcel carriers such as UPS have done in the past, which can be likened to: last mile, but not last few steps. And not too heavy.

In essence, bringing bulk items to the very last few feet of the journey — and even assembling things like dressers — may be a way to cement customer loyalty, especially for UPS and the trucking firms employed and deployed to do the last legs of delivery, as noted by Reuters.

Amid the examples of how the model may change a bit, and be elongated along the last mile, so to speak: UPS wants to partner with trucking firms that can shoulder tens of thousands of deliveries completed daily.

The truckers themselves are likely to embrace technology and services that had not been on offer before, including, as the newswire noted, mobile devices that will help register details on the deliveries (including complaints). As part of the race to differentiate, firms are moving to do installation and even repair work that is, of course, done on premise.

Yet Reuters noted that margins are “often no better” than other delivery options, at least for the carriers, because the prices they can charge the retailers remains relatively constrained by competition.

As noted earlier this year in an announcement where XPO said it would expand its heavy goods presence abroad, XPO Logistics President Troy Cooper said, “Our last mile expansion to Europe is being driven by customer demand, primarily related to eCommerce.” In a statement provided to PYMNTS, Cooper said that “consumers are buying more heavy goods online, and many of those products benefit from white glove services. Our contracted service professionals will unbox, assemble, inspect and prepare a product for installation prior to delivery or in the home. We also provide technology that allows consumers to manage orders in real time, reschedule delivery times and opt to receive weather and traffic alerts.”

“We’re giving the homeowner a seamless experience from purchase to delivery, while adding value to the brands we serve,” Cooper said.

Crossing the threshold — in terms of the actual apartment or delivery address, and the weight threshold (beyond 150 pounds) — has implications for UPS and FedEx, which may have to spend more to deliver more. The ripple effect down the eCommerce chain — through the daily, round-the-clock jousting between Amazon and everybody else — means carriers have to compete for the attention of those two delivery giants, who, understandably, may be loath to buy their own truck fleets.

The movement toward an embrace of logistics firms may pay off, as UPS and FedEx contend with bulkier items and have to enlist those white glove services in an increasingly omnichannel world.

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