As ringing sleigh bells give way to the New Year’s ball drop, it’s time to solidify your 2024 business goals. With peak season successes and failures top of mind, this is a perfect time for logistics, fulfillment and distribution professionals to make strategic decisions about how they will succeed in the last mile in the coming year. 

With  the largest local same-day footprint in the country, the Roadie network of 200,000 independent drivers spans 29,000+ U.S. ZIP codes and can reach 97% of U.S. households with ultrafast delivery. Suffice to say — we know a thing or two about the last mile. Since your success is our team’s first priority, we’ve taken a close look at the latest last-mile delivery trends for 2024 and identified six that should definitely be on your radar. 

Read through to see how you can improve the steps you’re already taking and where you can boost your delivery efficiencies in the new year.

1. Fast delivery will get faster

We’ve all heard the news: Amazon is planning to expand its same-day delivery capacity, including adding new facilities to accommodate the inventory. For 2024, that means the two- or three-day shipping expectation (which Amazon itself set when Prime debuted in 2005) will start to feel slow for some online shoppers. Even small ecommerce businesses will need to address this new level of consumer demand. 

In fact, speed of delivery is the No. 2 most popular factor for consumers when choosing where to shop, with only free shipping selected more often. More than that, 55% of shoppers say they’ll change retailers in order to get their orders delivered quicker. The statistics speak for themselves: Ecommerce is moving toward ultrafast delivery in 2024, and brands that don’t offer it risk losing sales to those that do.

2. Same-day delivery will become more efficient

Being able to deliver orders quickly is one thing, but delivering them efficiently is another story. As more consumers demand faster delivery and same-day offerings scale up, efficiency will be key to maximizing your last-mile profitability in 2024. 

Batching and routing is the obvious answer – using technology that organizes deliveries into an optimized route traveled by a single delivery driver. If 25 local customers have orders due within close delivery windows, batched and routed deliveries can meet their expectations and boost their satisfaction. Rather than sending out 25 individual point-to-point orders, technology can consolidate them into five routes with drivers making five deliveries each, or — even better — a single driver making all 25 deliveries on a well-designed route. 

Not only do customers receive their orders on time, but senders can use batching and routing to reduce overhead, see order changes and cancellations in real time, and cut unproductive drive time when no deliveries are being made. Furthermore, sellers who charge a fee for same-day delivery service can reduce the cost of those deliveries enough to turn same-day into a profit center. 

Read how one retailer reduced delivery mileage by 86% with this technique.

3. Businesses will have to demonstrate sustainable last mile practices

Interest in buying from brands with sustainable practices isn’t waning. A global consumer survey found that 60% of shoppers were interested in environmentally friendly delivery methods, but only 43% felt retailers were executing these goals. Delivery logistics put countless vehicles on the road, and since the last mile comprises as much as half of the associated vehicle emissions, it will become increasingly important to focus on reducing that environmental impact in 2024. 

Services like crowdsourced delivery make use of vehicles that are already on the road (rather than adding more fleet vehicles to the mix), and both electric and hybrid vehicles are increasingly available for delivery services. This means your business can deliver the same goods on fast timelines without negatively affecting your environmental impact.

4. Consumers will demand more control of the delivery experience with “choose your date”

Some retailers have shifted toward a “choose your date” delivery methodology in response to consumer demands for more control over the experience and more sustainable delivery options that don’t sacrifice speed. On the environmentally friendly side, this service helps reduce packaging and emissions with fewer delivery attempts and also improves the customer experience. As a white-glove solution, delivery scheduling gives customers yet another option at checkout, letting them customize and feel more in charge of their shopping experience. 

Retailers can also benefit from scheduled deliveries, as customers can confidently plan their schedules around their desired delivery date. Scheduled deliveries fit neatly inside the batched-and-routed delivery approach for ultimate efficiency and allow retailers to more effectively plan inventory around upcoming orders.

5. Businesses will decentralize fulfillment

The farther shoppers are from a fulfillment center, the longer they wait for orders to arrive — and we all know they don’t like that. In 2024, successful retailers are planning steps to spread out their inventory where it will most benefit their customers. In some cases, this looks like building new fulfillment centers similar to Amazon and Target’s strategies. In others, it’s about leveraging brick-and-mortar stores as mini fulfillment centers for popular curbside pickup, buy-online-pickup-in-store and buy-online-deliver-from-store offerings. Or it may require using on-demand logistics solutions to put inventory closer to critical markets with minimal investments.

Inventory decentralization makes filling orders more convenient and can also give you insights into what types of products sell best in different areas of your market, yielding even more strategic inventory positioning opportunities.

But the benefits of decentralized fulfillment don’t end with easy access to products. Any retailers that have been affected by natural disasters, illness outbreaks, power outages and other supply chain interruptions know it’s helpful to have your inventory spread out. If a single fulfillment center goes down for any reason, other nearby facilities can pick up the slack until the operation comes back online. 

6. Senders will diversify delivery modes

In addition to decentralizing inventory, 2024 will see retailers spreading out their logistics partnerships to really deliver (pun intended) on meeting customers where they are. As same-day delivery needs increase, smart logistics pros know that having multiple partners at the ready will be essential. The more nimble and on-demand your solutions are, the more flexible your business can be in the types of delivery options it can offer to customers. Whether they’re looking for traditional ground shipping or same-day delivery in the next three hours, having the right mix of logistics partners will ensure you can meet their demands.

Carrier diversification will also be as much about risk management as it is about efficiency. Unfortunately, 2023 was an unstable year for the freight market, marked by high-profile industry exits of companies like Yellow and Convoy, and massive layoffs at major players like Flexport and C.H. Robinson. Diversifying delivery options helps senders reduce risk by not putting all of their proverbial eggs in one basket. 

Adding crowdsourced delivery

The easiest way to put all six of these 2024 last-mile delivery trends into action is crowdsourced delivery. With crowdsourcing, businesses can:

  • Augment and supplement existing logistics services
  • Grow (or add) same-day delivery capabilities dynamically
  • Expand delivery options on checkout
  • Reposition inventory on-demand
  • Introduce energy- and resource-efficient technologies
  • Give customers a shopping and delivery experience they’ll love

The Roadie team is ready to help your business start off 2024 on the right foot with a mix of crowdsourced delivery services and solutions that are easy to implement and scale as you grow. Reach out today for a consultation to get started.