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The idea of the “last mile” is one that’s become increasingly important to logistics and warehousing over the past few years.

Above and beyond the obvious definition of it being, well, the last mile your deliveries have to travel, last-mile deliveries can encompass a number of different modes of transportation, as well as different methods of delivering goods to the customer. The rise in popularity of last-mile delivery has coincided with the rise in popularity of ecommerce shopping, as many online retailers and order fulfillment centers have increasingly turned to last-mile delivery solutions in order to get the customers orders to them on time – and that can be an increasingly short expectation, in today’s retail environment.

As you can imagine, this can start to get complex if not managed correctly, and this complexity can eventually lead to issues with successfully completing deliveries. Luckily, preventing many of these complications starts with the warehouse, before the items even leave. Here’s how you can prevent these issues with your logistics.


Late deliveries due to item handling


In the old days, if you wanted to order something, you used to have to give someone your credit card number over the phone, and then wait 6-8 weeks for the item to arrive. (Younger readers may not believe this, but it’s true.)

These days, however, major retailers like Amazon have set a common expectation of delivery times within a 2-day window. While that’s not impossible, it does require a lot of careful planning and efficient, accurate work as the item moves to its final destination – and the warehouses where the items start are no exception.


One of the biggest causes of delayed shipments is the mishandling of items. Items can get lost, broken, misplaced, or mispicked on their way to fulfillment, and a lot of these issues can be boiled down to a combination of user error and bad documentation.

To ensure your items are leaving on time, take a look through your warehouse and make sure everything is labeled and put away correctly. Clearly document with your entire staff what items can be found where, and consider making a special section for the most popular items to help them get out the door more quickly without the rest of the inventory getting in the way. If your teams are having a difficult time retrieving certain items, you may want to consider bringing in shelves designed to move products or inventory more efficiently, such as gravity flow racks, to help reduce overall picking time.


Improper item barcoding


Above and beyond the physical handling of items, items that become difficult to track or find can also contribute to delays and difficulties with last-mile deliveries. A common cause of this is incorrect barcoding – even if your employee has an item in hand, if they can’t scan it correctly, it can lead to delays in getting the order out the door. (Worse, it could also lead to miscounts and   down the line.)

Make sure each of your items are correctly barcoded, and make regular reviews to make sure errors don’t arise over time. Start by checking your storage solutions like cantilever racks that tend to hold larger items that are more difficult to correctly barcode, and then work from there to double-check the barcodes on more popular items, smaller (and easier-to-lose) items, and the like.


Inaccessible warehouse locations


Finally, while this may be a larger challenge to tackle, the truth of the matter is that a lot of short-term or last-mile delivery issues come up because of the distance from your warehouse to your customers.

If your business only serves a given geographic area, or if you tend to have order complications in a certain region (such as a large metropolitan area a significant distance away from your main fulfillment center), consider opening up a   in another area to help manage last-mile deliveries closer to where the customers actually are. Distance is always a factor in these matters, and by closing the gap between where your products originate from and where your customers are actually receiving the deliveries, you can help reduce the risk of lost time, canceled deliveries, or the need for re-delivery at a later date.

By resolving these issues before your items leave the warehouse, you can help make sure your last-mile deliveries are smoother across the board.

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