date02 November 2021

What could the sharing economy mean for last-mile delivery?

Over the past couple of years, there’s been noticeable growth in online shopping behaviours in consumers, and a consequent boom in e-commerce businesses. And although this is great news for companies, it does mean that some are having to reconsider their logistics and supply chain, including how they run last-mile deliveries. This is where the sharing economy comes in. Could it be a fresh approach to last-mile deliveries?  

What is a sharing economy?

A sharing economy is an economic model in which an asset or service is shared between individuals, in a free borrow or pay-to-rent service. It’s a popular model in high-value goods or services which are not fully utilized all the time. However, a sharing economy can be used for any good; popular uses include crowdfunding, food banks, collaborative workspaces, book swapping and car sharing.

Within the transport industry, Uber is a well-known and successful company that has used a sharing economy to its benefit. There are several benefits to a sharing economy, which include:

  • Flexibility – For workers, a sharing economy can give them more flexibility in their job, such as self-employed drivers picking when they work for ride-sharing companies, or office workers choosing collaborative spaces over a traditional office.
  • Reduce environmental impact – By increasing the use of goods and services, it reduces the amount that needs to be produced, lowering waste and industrial pollution.
  • Accessible – The cost of searching and acquiring high-value goods can put many people off, but by sharing, individuals or companies can share the cost amongst others.  

What is last-mile delivery?

 In a supply chain, the last mile of delivery is the final step in the process, when the package arrives at the buyer's door. As well as being key in overall customer satisfaction, last-mile delivery is typically the most expensive and time-consuming part of the supply chain.  

How will a sharing economy impact last-mile deliveries?  

Crowd sharing logistics

Also known as crowd logistics or crowd shipping, crowd sharing logistics combines crowd sourcing and logistics. It can benefit warehousing with multiple companies sharing storage in high-cost areas, and last-mile deliveries which rely on local delivery services that everyone has access to. This includes vans, bikes, cars or scooters.

For example, most crowd sharing logistics for the last mile use mobile apps which allow for individuals to go from place to place delivering goods to their peers. This means that an individual could deliver products for 3 different companies in one drop off, reducing the number of last-mile deliveries.  

Environmental impact

With more focus on reducing carbon emissions, the logistics industry also needs to consider how it will reduce its environmental footprint. A sharing economy could be that solution.

Not only are last-mile deliveries expensive, but they also require a lot of driving and contribute to greenhouse emissions and increased traffic. Maximising delivery space and combining deliveries is a good first step to reducing carbon levels, and the sharing economy could help. If companies can group deliveries throughout the logistics chain, not just last-mile deliveries, then it is likely to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the logistics industry.

For example, Uber Freight works hard with its clients to maximise its capacity to lessen the number of miles per load. By carrying more products for more companies, Uber is able to reduce their number of journeys and therefore lessen their carbon footprint. At the Hitachi Transport SystemsGroup, they construct IT infrastructure, multipurpose logistics centers, delivery networks, etc. as a standard platform, providing collaborative storage, delivery, and so on, to multiple customers. They can also customize the level of collaboration to partial deployment, such as shared delivery with arrangement of transfer depots.  

Find out more If you’re looking at how to adjust your last-mile delivery practices, including introducing an electronic proof of delivery system, get in touch today. Our expert team are more than happy to help with any questions you may have.