The latest in the last mile

The Operations Room

One of the challenges in e-commerce has always been the last mile — that last bit of transportation required to get those new shoes or electronic gadget to the customer. Expensive packages need to be signed for and, indeed, in some neighborhoods it is best not to leave any box on the front stoop. Those are all inconveniences for the customer. From the firm’s perspective, the last mile is also where the costs get higher. The marginal cost of cramming one more box into a semi to get from a fulfillment center to a metro area is next to nothing but the marginal cost of one more stop on a delivery route  in that metro area is not.

That’s why delivery lockers make for an appealing idea. Amazon has gotten some press for developing a network of unattended delivery locations. Here is how The Economist describes it (Delivering the…

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