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Going the Distance: Last Mile vs. First-to-Last Mile Delivery

When it comes to shipping, the bigger the item, the more complicated logistics can become.

Big stuff, of course, is having quite a surge in the e-commerce space. While 22 percent of Americans report having purchased an oversized item online in the past year, 21 percent of those report that their item arrived damaged. The need for reliable, seamless large-item transport is more apparent than ever.

Until recently, furniture retailers were stuck with choosing between prohibitively expensive white glove delivery, or lower-cost but higher-risk LTL (Less Than Truckload) options. Both of these options can deter customers who would otherwise be eager to complete a purchase.

The good news? uShip’s In-Home Delivery solution brings you the best of both worlds: affordable, predictable rates, efficient booking, and a built-in network of carriers that take shipments from origin to destination instead of being tediously routed through different routes, distribution centers, loading docks, and carriers.

Put another way, why book a flight with 6 or 7 connections when you can fly non-stop for a low rate?

Last Mile Delivery

With traditional transport methods, a large piece of furniture can pass through dozens of various transporters on different legs of the journey — first mile, middle mile and final/last mile — changing hands as many as 6-8 times before all is said and done, that is, said furniture is gently placed at the front curb of its new home. Some shipping solutions utilize LTL (Less Than Truckload) service to create what they believe to be an efficient process, but this often results in a bevy of issues, including delays and damages.

For decades this has been the accepted way of doing things because, well, there was really no other choice. Until now.

Within the furniture shipping landscape, final mile delivery has become a hot topic, thanks to the heavy responsibility the final carrier holds regarding navigating residential neighborhoods, in-home deliveries and damage control. With final-mile delivery, customers and businesses must rely on the system and hope items are well cared for, with much of the onus falling to the last-mile transporter, who may have carried the item only a short distance.

While final-mile delivery solves many logistical problems and lowers costs, it also leaves room for mistakes, miscommunication, damage, and delays.

Our solution?

First-to-Final Mile Delivery

First-to-final mile delivery takes a different approach to transporting large items. Using the uShip In-Home Delivery program, you’ll rely on a nationwide network of carriers, who are ready to take  items from pickup to destination and into the customer’s room of choice.

See, the carrier network on uShip is a bit different from legacy networks. About 85 percent of those in uShip’s network drive drive smaller vehicles such as sprinter vans, pickup trucks with trailers, and box trucks. In fact, the network has over 41,000 active carriers, all of whom are feedback rated. These smaller-scaled transporters are much more flexible and have a a smaller operational footprint compared to 53’ long tractor-trailers, allowing for one carrier to handle an item all the way through its journey, while picking up other side shipments along the way.

Take for example, Elizabeth Orton, owner of Find a Way Shipping. Orton has built out her own business to a fleet of four vehicles consisting of two vans, a box truck and a trailer. She’s booked nearly 300 shipments on uShip, most through uShip’s In-Home Delivery partners, and owns a 5-star, 100 percent feedback score. Read more about Elizabeth here.

The benefits of these first-to-final mile transporters are distinct. First, fewer handling opportunities mean lower damage risk. Less than one percent of uShip In-Home Delivery transactions result in a damage claim, significantly less than the industry average. Additionally, lower rates become available when a single transporter is handling the item, rather than having multiple transport companies or drivers share revenue on each item.

Finally, robust insurance policies are available to add on right in the booking process. Reliable coverage is even available at volume discounts for those whose shipping frequency qualifies. Coverage you can count on, plus coverage for peace of mind makes for a truly seamless first-to-final mile delivery.

A Turning Point

The proof is in the numbers; large item e-commerce shipping is only becoming more in-demand, a need that must be met by retailers of all sizes. One in seven Americans polled reported that a large item they purchased online never arrived at all, while 47 percent said they’d look elsewhere for the same item if shipping costs were too high. Damaged, delayed or pricey shipments don’t garner customer loyalty, highlighting the need for fast, transparent and affordable transport, no matter how large the item.

Of the Americans who’ve bought a large item online in the past year, 35 percent say they’re more likely to buy large items online than they were five years ago, a trend worth noticing.

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