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What is First Mile and Last Mile Delivery?

From the manufacturer to the end-user is often a lengthy, multi-step journey. Supply chain management professionals work to make this journey as efficient and cost-effective as possible. 

First mile delivery and last mile delivery are common terms used by professionals in the industry to describe the different movements of goods during the supply chain process.

First Mile Delivery

Depending on the industry, some may have different definitions and meanings assigned to the term, “first mile.”

A manufacturer may see a first mile delivery as the transportation of their completed goods from the factory to a distribution center or warehouse. A retail store will define first mile as the transportation of manufactured goods from a supplier’s warehouse to the retailer’s distribution center. 

In both of these cases, this first mile delivery is the first leg of the journey that item will make in the individual company’s supply chain process. 

For retailers, this first mile delivery could be followed by a middle mile step, in which items are taken from the distribution center and sent to individual store locations. Some retailers may skip the middle mile step and have first mile deliveries sent straight to the retail location.

In the e-commerce sector, first mile delivery is sometimes used to describe the process of taking an item from a retailer and transferring it to the courier that will bring it to the customer’s home. For example, transferring an item from the seller’s warehouse to the mail system. In this instance of the usage, the first mile refers specifically to the first step in the home delivery order fulfillment process. The item is already in the company’s supply chain. 

Last Mile Delivery

As you may have guessed, last mile, sometimes called final mile, delivery is the last step of the supply chain process. It is the journey from a retail store or shipping warehouse to the end customer’s home. As indicated by the name, it’s the last step, or last mile, of the process. 

During first mile and middle mile deliveries, the inventory is often moved in batches. An entire crate, pallet, or master carton of items will be transferred from location to location. 

The last mile delivery involves taking individual skus (stockkeeping units) and labeling them for transportation to a final destination. That could be a new sweater ordered online and shipped from a Kentucky warehouse to a customer in Michigan. Or, it could be a new sectional purchased at a local retailer and delivered the same day by an on-demand delivery crew. 

Last mile delivery is intended to be the last step of the supply chain. It is the final transportation of goods, the item is now in the hands of its final user and owner. In the event an item is returned to a retailer, there is an alternate process called reverse logistics

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GoShare for Businesses

GoShare is an on-demand logistics provider. Our network of local delivery professionals acts as a virtual fleet for businesses looking to transport goods. With a large selection of vehicles, GoShare is an ideal solution for local transportation projects, including first mile, middle mile, and last mile deliveries. To learn more about GoShare’s services, contact our business development team.