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Google Drives Into Last Mile Tech Arena

As last mile efficiency has moved from a nice-to-have to a business necessity, some of the world’s largest companies — including Target, Walmart, Shopify, Microsoft and FedEx — have introduced technology designed to tackle logistics complexities that can include real-time challenges like weather, traffic and street construction.

Now Google has debuted its Last Mile Fleet Solution for companies that directly manage or own their own delivery fleets. Google’s management solution appears to be aimed at the small- to mid-sized retailer market, an already hotly contested territory being fought over by Shopify, with its Shopify Fulfillment Network offering two-day delivery and promising smooth returns, and Amazon with its FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) services for its marketplace sellers.

The Google solution “allows your business to optimize across every stage of the last mile delivery journey: capturing valid addresses, planning delivery routes, efficiently navigating drivers, tracking shipment progress and analyzing fleet performance,” wrote Shalin Mantri, Group Product Manager for the Google Maps Platform in a blog post. The technology builds on the Google On-demand Rides & Deliveries solution used by ride-hailing and on-demand delivery operators around the world.

Features for delivery drivers include:

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  • Embedded turn-by-turn navigation with the familiar Google Maps interface, an in-app experience designed to offer seamless integration into drivers’ existing workflows while also allowing brand customization;
  • Detailed delivery locations and traffic data that can improve ETAs so drivers get to the right place on time;
  • A full day view that allows drivers to plan their stops for the day, so they can adjust their route plan as needed; and
  • Improved routing and in-app navigation.

The last mile has been a busy place in recent months. Walmart debuted its GoLocal solution in August 2021, the same month that Rakuten Super Logistics introduced Xparcel Expedited, a logistics-as-a-service offering aimed at small- to mid-size ecommerce retailers. In January 2022, Microsoft and FedEx announced a partnership designed to help retailers streamline last mile logistics.

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