A surge in e-commerce demand has led to a proliferation of start-ups and small hauliers as the biggest carriers struggle to cope with volume, according to Bloomberg.
Residential deliveries had already been on the rise in recent years due to the growth of online retail, a trend that was accelerated by pandemic lockdowns and high-street closures. But even as vaccination programmes make it safer for people to venture out again, customer expectations of options such as same-day delivery may continue to bed in.
These start-ups typically use the gig economy model of freelance drivers organising via an app, and picking up from distribution centres.
While they’re currently no competitive threat to the titans of international logistics, last-mile delivery start-ups are proving to be an attractive proposition to shippers looking for more control over the customer experience during the last leg of delivery.
Big courier companies are also increasingly working with these start-ups to help them improve the experience for the end customer. UPS, for example, owns a stake in and is running trials with Roadie, a start-up which offers same-day delivery with a focus on scalability from local to national.
It’s not just last-mile delivery that sees big companies innovating through start-ups. Earlier this week, DHL announced it would be running trials with Dronamics for more efficient “middle-mile” operations.