- In an e-commerce driven environment, more than 70% of shippers and third party logistics providers (3PLs) recognize the need for "last-yard" services, the next step beyond the last mile, according to the 23rd annual Third-Party Logistics Study.
- Managing the last yard, however, presents a challenge, with 53% of shippers responding they effectively manage the last yard, and only 34% of 3PLs agreeing last-yard logistics was managed effectively.
- Delayed, damaged, misplaced and lost deliveries were the top last-yard concerns among shippers.
Last-mile logistics have consistently been one of most expensive and challenging parts of a supply chain for shippers to manage, and last-yard logistics aren't much easier to tackle.
"Last-yard logistics can be chaotic," the study said.
While the last mile could be delivery from a retail store to a customer's front door, the last yard represents the customer receiving that package and taking it to its point of use.
In a B2B scenario, repair parts may be sent to a receiving dock, and the last yard is the movement to the manufacturing location where the parts will be used.
The last yard may seem physically and metaphorically far away from the shipper, but this part of the value chain is essential for managing growth in consumer-centric supply chains.
"The capable execution of last-yard responsibilities will determine whether the customer’s needs are fully satisfied or not," the report stated.
Many shippers have taken innovative steps to fulfill the last yard. Some retailers have tested delivering perishables inside a customer's refrigerator rather than leaving the items on the doorstep.
Package lockers have grown in popularity, as well. Amazon has rolled out package lockers in several apartment buildings, and UPS launched a pilot with Latch to securely place parcels inside residential complexes. These concepts eliminate "staff intervention" between the logistics provider and customer.
Still, there's more room for improvement in the last yard. The report noted mail rooms and receiving departments need to be modernized to better handle logistics. In addition, technology and software can keep shippers and 3PLs informed in real-time of a delivery status.
The last yard is "a reminder of the complexity of supply chains and the need for supply chain participants (e.g., 3PLs and their customers) to work together to identify and implement appropriate solutions," the study said.