How customer demands are reshaping last-mile delivery

Source: McKinsey&Company

The last mile is seeing disruption from new business models that address customer demand for ever-faster delivery, as well as new technologies such as drones and autonomous ground vehicles.

Last-mile delivery, especially of parcels, has recently received lots of attention in the media and from investors. The cost of global parcel delivery, excluding pickup, line-haul, and sorting, amounts to about €70 billion, with China, Germany, and the United States accounting for more than 40 percent of the market. And not only is the market large, but it’s also highly dynamic, with growth rates in 2015 of between 7 and 10 percent in mature markets (such as Germany and the United States) and more than 100 percent in developing markets. The biggest driver of this growth, not surprisingly, is e-commerce, which has shifted market share from the B2B to the B2C segment.With the rise of e-commerce, consumer preferences have grown increasingly important in the formerly business-oriented parcel-delivery market. Large e-commerce players, as well as various start-ups, have identified last-mile services as a key differentiator. In fact, the variety of delivery options and the perceived quality of the delivery service are major decision-making criteria for online customers and hence directly affect e-commerce players’ success in the marketplace. With this in mind, vendors are working hard to offer the best customer experience possible, especially by improving delivery times. To gain a better understanding of what customers actually prefer, we conducted a survey of more than 4,700 respondents in China, Germany, and the United States. We used conjoint analysis to better understand consumers’ relative preferences for different delivery options, including their willingness to pay (Exhibit 1). Nearly 25 percent of consumers are willing to pay significant premiums for the privilege of same-day or instant delivery. This share is likely to increase, given that younger consumers are more inclined (just over 30 percent) to choose same-day and instant delivery over regular delivery.

Exhibit 1

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