The Last Mile is Sustainable: Advancements in Sustainability for eCommerce Fulfillment

By:  Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., COO at ShipHero

While the pandemic has dominated headlines for the past 20 months, another hot button issue has been global climate change. This has thrust sustainability into the spotlight, and individual organizations have begun looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment that go beyond shrinking their carbon footprint. 

In last week’s blog, we talked about automation and robotics, and how this advanced technology was revolutionizing the way warehouses work and how companies deliver their products. In truth, a large part of the opportunity for sustainability in the last mile starts and ends with delivery vehicles. 

However, there are other areas of opportunity, so let’s explore some of the recent advancements in sustainability for eCommerce fulfillment.

It’s Not Diesel, It’s Electric

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have already proven to be a cost-effective solution to their gas-powered counterparts and many logistics companies have adopted them. According to a report by NPR in March 2021, Amazon and UPS have placed significant orders for EVs, while DHL already has 20% of its fleet classified as zero emissions. And Fedex has taken the biggest leap, pledging that its fleet will be 100% battery-powered by 2040.

While the electricazation of 18-wheelers is stymied by short battery lives, electric vehicles are perfectly poised to make a difference in sustainability. With other last mile enhancements, like route optimization, EVs can deliver along routes that maximize their battery life’s power. Also, finding a charging station isn’t that hard in most urban areas. And since deliveries typically happen during business hours, EVs have plenty of time to get a charge.

‘Recalculating Route’ Can Help Save the Environment

All right, maybe not save, but route optimization is a key factor in reducing emissions by delivery vehicles. This technology prioritizes efficiency over length, taking into account many different factors that can impact a driver’s delivery route. A few of the challenges they account for are:

  • Delivery Time Windows
  • Driver Proximity to Hub
  • Traffic Congestion
  • Parking Availability 
  • And More

By spending just a little more time analyzing the route your vehicles take, you’ll be able to do a better job of sending them on the most efficient path which will lower emissions and reduce maintenance and gas costs. This type of technology can also impact customer satisfaction. If you tie your route into a front-facing delivery notification system, then a customer can easily “click” to see where their shipment is. Consider features like the one Uber uses to show you the location of your driver. 

Increased transparency is a healthy and positive side effect of reducing environmental impact and more efficiently completing your deliveries.

Go Small

Micro-warehousing is another up and coming last mile delivery solution, and again, it aids sustainability by decreasing the length of the delivery route and therefore reducing emissions. While it may seem daunting to sign a lease for a new warehouse site, having the ability to move your inventory closer to where it will ultimately go makes a huge difference in delivery times and impact. It is also recommended that you designate areas in this space for same-day or next-day deliveries. Closer proximity to customers means you might be able to offer these types of premium services that customers have come to expect. 

The Big Last Mile Delivery Picture

As of right now, the quickest and easiest way to build a sustainable last mile strategy is to examine the use of gas-powered vehicles, optimize delivery routes and consider warehousing your products in smaller locations closer to the end consumer. While it may seem that these steps won’t make much of an impact, one small step and all that. If multiple businesses commit to make these changes, then there is proof that last mile delivery could make a positive and lasting impact on the big global climate picture.

If you’re new to ShipHero Fulfillment, please schedule a meeting today with our experts to learn more about how we can help you get your orders picked, packed, and delivered with our fulfillment service. No setup fees, simply pay as you go. ShipHero works to ensure that organizations invest in the solutions that match their needs, to improve productivity, revenue, and success. 

Click HERE to Schedule a Meeting Today 

Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., COO


About the author:  Maggie M. Barnett, Esq., is the COO of ShipHero. She is responsible for planning and executing the overall operational, legal, managerial and administrative procedures, reporting structures and operational controls of the organization. Barnett’s greatest strengths are leadership, risk mitigation, change management and a passion for business transformation. She is known for her expertise in delivering operational excellence and an ability to provide guidance and mitigating risk. Her leadership of ShipHero is grounded in a servant mentality, always doing the right thing for our stakeholders. Her passion for ShipHero comes from the ability to drive operational excellence throughout the organization impacting the lives of our employees, customers, and partners.

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