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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The last mile is the delivery of goods from a warehouse or distribution center to its final destination, but the last yard is the delivery to the shipment’s actual point of use, according to the 2019 Third-Party Logistics Study. The point of use is where the shipment is creating value for the consumer — the difference between delivering groceries to the consumer’s front door and the consumer’s refrigerator. 

The last yard exists in both B2C and B2B shipments. When a small parcel delivery company leaves a shipment in a secure package locker, the consumer completes the last yard and retrieves it from that locker. The final destination of medical supplies might be the receiving center of a hospital building, but the last yard is the delivery to their point of use in the operating room.

The last mile can be inclusive of the last yard, like in a Direct Store Delivery (DSD) or white glove service scenario. A packaged foods producer operating a DSD model will deliver their goods directly onto a supermarket’s shelves instead of a loading dock or receiving area, combining the last mile and the last yard. White glove service does the same — delivering delicate shipments directly to the point of use instead of leaving it outside a residence or at a retailer ready for pick-up. 

The last yard may be small, but it isn’t inconsequential. 77% of shippers feel that last yard services will become a differentiation factor for 3PLs, because the last yard determines whether the consumer/business’s need is actually satisfied. An optimized last mile is futile if the last yard isn’t effectively completed and the shipment’s value isn’t realized for the receiver when expected. 

But as shipment volumes increase, the last yard becomes more challenging. Buyers are concerned about package security while storage capacity and personnel hours are strained. On-time deliveries are critical to keep up with rising consumer expectations and ensure perishable goods or dated items like magazines or newspapers arrive in time to create value.

Potential solutions? Improve internal processes, says the 2019 Third-Party Logistics Study. Strategically consider delivery models, whether they’re self-serve (package lockers) or hand delivery. 3PLs may be the solution in the near future as they accept greater responsibility for an efficient and reliable last yard. 

STORD partners with warehouses and distribution centers to operate a distribution network and freight brokerage that offers companies visibility and control over their inventory. To learn more about how STORD can optimize your distribution, contact us.