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How last-mile delivery took a different spin in 2023

How last-mile delivery took a different spin in 2023
How last-mile delivery took a different spin in 2023

The sky was filled with drones delivering everything from burgers to medicine in the last year.  Pedestrians shared sidewalks with robots, and driverless cars almost became the new norm. From half-day to super-fast deliveries in the last twelve months. 

We’ve seen it all, or so we think, until 2024 shows off with even more impressive technology shaping the future of last-mile delivery. But until then, we can only wait with bated breath. 

Last-mile delivery innovations

Locate2u looks at how the year has shaped the last-mile delivery sector, which the innovators were, and who is playing catch-up. 

Half-day deliveries

In October, Cainiao Network, the logistics company behind Chinese tech titan Alibaba, introduced its half-day express delivery service in Beijing. 

Cainiao Network committed to delivering orders placed before noon the same afternoon. But orders placed before midnight will reach doorsteps before noon the following day. It sounds impressive, but then again, compared to what Amazon is doing, it still feels slow. 

Faster deliveries

Amazon, the frontrunner in the delivery game, even increased the rate at which it’s delivering parcels. In the first six months of 2023, Amazon delivered 1.8 billion packages, either the same day it ordered or the next. 

And China took it one step further, setting a historic new record of handling 120 billion parcels in 2023. How did they do it? 

They started using robots to sort and convey parcels at logistics centers. They also use high-speed trains to fast-track the delivery time. But probably the most important move of all, they expanded the delivery network to connect farmers in rural areas with the world. 

Next day deliveries

On the other side of the conveyor belt, Australia Post is still playing catch up. They only introduced next-day delivery in August. Australia Post Metro is the first new delivery service in recent years. It provides eligible retailers and customers faster service and certainty when shopping online.

The experts are warning that AusPost has to improve its delivery service to modernize and stay ahead in the fast-changing logistics environment. 

Drone and robot deliveries

Amazon is taking medicine on a trip with drone deliveries. It unveiled a new MK30 drone, designed to deliver parcels within 60 minutes of placing an order. It’s only used to offer ultra-fast delivery of prescription medicines in Texas, US. 

Wondering how safe it is? Amazon says it’s been proven to be “magnitudes safer” than driving to shops during extensive test flights. 

Staying in the sky, one of America’s largest fast-food restaurant chains, Chick-fil-A, started testing new horizons with drone delivery. In a pilot project, the restaurant tests how it can fly in burgers (and cold drinks) to hungry customers within a 2km radius. 

If everything goes according to plan, more burgers could fly around in America this year. 

Back on the roads, Uber Eats has teamed up with Serve Robotics, piloting a program with Pizza Hut and Walmart to test how robots can be used for last-mile delivery. More than 2,000 robots will be deployed to sidewalks with no significant delays.  

AI-powered deliveries in last-mile delivery

Still wondering what 2024 would look like in the last-mile delivery space? Glovo’s GM, Alex Jordanov, says technology has always been seen as the ‘holy grail’ that will solve any business’ operational issues. 

He warns against it: “Technology is in many ways just a tool, and if the core doesn’t work, technology is not going to make that much of a difference.”

Jordanov says no company can survive by merely relying on technology; it’s fundamental that you do everything that is needed and use technology to “enhance it and push it forward.”

With that in mind, 2024 is bound to kick off on an interesting note as companies race to implement AI features and make the customer experience more pleasurable and faster.

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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