Theft, weather-damaged goods, spoiled perishables. These are just a few of the problems Americans are experiencing with their daily deliveries, as retailers and logistics companies scurry to meet the meteoric demand in e-commerce.
As a result, many consumers are left with the unsettling feelings of worry, inconvenience, and hassle associated with managing their deliveries. Online retailers suffer the brunt of the cost of damaged and stolen goods, as they tend to replace them. And delivery companies are left with a black eye on their brand, as they’re the ones putting the packages on the front porch.
It will take a number of leaders on several fronts to start tackling the problems of the Last Foot and, no doubt, many years. So who are the current leaders stepping up to solve the problems of the Last Foot?
We take a closer look here at the people and the organizations that are starting to make a difference. This includes:
Industry thought leaders
On the front line of any dramatic shift in the way things are done are those that champion and foster ideas ahead of the curve. Here are a few key leaders in the supply chain space speaking at conferences, doing research, and writing key pieces to impact change.
Dr. Ben Stickle , Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Middle Tennessee State University, is a recognized expert and industry forerunner addressing loss in the last mile delivery, focusing on package theft. He has appeared on several national talk shows, including Good Morning America, as an expert weighing in on the problem of porch piracy.
“The problems at the Last Foot are perhaps the most costly of the entire supply chain,” says Stickle. “Police, governments, and legislators will be unlikely to have an impact. Rather, consumers, retailers, and delivery providers must work together to solve this issue.”
John Callan is the CEO of Ursa Major Associates with 20+ years of experience in logistics and parcel delivery. His company provides strategy consulting and business development services in the areas of postal, parcel, and express logistics.
“I think there’s a missing link in there when the consumer actually has the goods in their hands and the merchant knows that,” says Callan. “I think the answer is every parcel has a barcode and optical scanning. … There should be a scan at every point.”
Callan believes the lack of communication/notification along the delivery supply chain is a key issue. In fact, most merchants don’t know if their goods have made it to the customer or not.
“If the delivery has been made, it seems that the merchant ought to know that,” Callan said.
The same goes for the shipper.
“Amazon will take a picture of it to show you it’s at the door,” Callan said. “But you don’t know if someone actually received the package.”
“Many of the problems in the supply and value chains supporting online purchases, such as tracking and notifications, scheduled delivery, and same day delivery, have been improved to the point that they are standard features rather than exceptions,” she said. “The same cannot be said for the problems of the last foot.”
And despite massive investment in getting goods to the door, Register-Shaw points out the risk of all of that effort going bad at the door.
“Still for a few hours more, things can, and do, go wrong — packages get rained on, additional items are stacked in such a way that packaging or contents are damaged or porch pirates appear and disappear,” she said. “The careful investments that retailers, fulfillment services, and delivery companies have made to create trust is destroyed in a flash, and the finger pointing about whose responsibility it is to fix the problem begins.”
DeliverySafe founders Adam Schumacher and Mike Vig recognized that the rise in e-commerce and changes in buyer behaviors were dramatically increasing the problems at the porch. To solve these issues, they invented a lockable delivery box that is currently being sold to consumers.
”We definitely have a long way to go in order to solve all of the “Last Foot” issues that exist,” Vig said. “Most importantly, consumers need a convenient way to guarantee they get what they pay for when purchasing online. An easy-to-use lockable parcel box is a great solution to address many of these issues.”
Although it’s the early stages for their solution, DeliverySafe is in it for the long haul, believing their delivery box is the best way to solve the problems consumers face.
“We are committed to solving the “last foot” of the supply chain as we work to make sure everyone is able to experience the same peace of mind knowing what they order is safe, fresh, and where it is supposed to be,” Vig said.
Porch pirates are a hot topic around the news and social media. No doubt, we will see many reports and posts this coming Holiday season. In fact, Google Trends shows a major uptick in searches for porch pirates during November and December.
Collectively, the news and social media have served to make Americans very aware of the problems of package theft. The more we see a bubbling up of the problem from news and social media, the more demand there will be for change.
Large Industry Players
We know the key players are delivery/logistics companies like Amazon, UPS, FedEx, as well as, the United States Postal Services (USPS). They haven’t specifically addressed the front porch, but there are several alternative ways they offer to receive packages. Much of their focus has been on “lockers” and “hubs”.
For these solutions, people go to a local center to pick up their packages on their own. In addition, large grocery stores, as well as other big merchandise chains, have curbside pickup as an alternative way to receive groceries and goods.
Front Porch Solution Providers
Package delivery boxes like the DeliverySafe are the easiest and most advantageous choice when it comes to safe delivery storage. To some extent, security doorbell cameras like and other security cameras can deter package theft. But the reality is that Americans will need to evolve to using the lockable package box, or the modern mailbox , in order to have the convenience they want in receiving packages any time of the day.
Lawmakers & Law Enforcement
Porch theft is a crime, but very rarely are culprits caught in the act. In addition, the police don’t have a category for it when filling out reports. As a result, there is not significant crime data to understand where and when porch piracy is committed other than through research surveys and polls.
Although it’s still the early days of bringing to light the problems of the Last Foot, there are several leaders making an impact across a number of areas. Collectively, momentum is being built to solve these issues.