Exclusive Benchmark Survey: Mapping Retail’s Last Mile Battleground

The last mile has become a first-order concern for retailers, with both shipping volumes and customer expectations rising rapidly. Amazon sets a high standard for the industry, abetted by the fact that for 100 million+ Prime members, shipping costs are bundled into annual fees, making them essentially invisible and “painless.”

Results from the 2nd annual Retail TouchPoints Last Mile Benchmark Survey identify the biggest challenges retailers face in the competitive post-sale environment, including fast-rising return rates. The Survey also identifies emerging last-mile opportunities like boosting CX by proactively communicating with consumers; a range of new delivery technologies, including AI and drones; and using data to optimize the revenue potential of last-mile interactions with customers.

Key survey findings include:

  • Shipping volumes on the rise: While just 7% of retailers shipped 51% to 75% of their orders to customers’ homes in 2018, that percentage rose to 38% in 2019;
  • Greater use of next-gen technologies: 36% of retailer respondents currently use AI/machine learning solutions; 34% use drone deliveries; and 12% use algorithms to pre-position inventory close to expected demand locations;
  • Minimizing fraudulent returns was the top returns-related challenge, at 64%, followed by bottom-line revenue impact of reselling returned items, at 60%; and
  • 51% of retailers optimize the last mile’s revenue potential by bundling products together into customized boxes.

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