Technological Disruption and Innovation in Last-Mile Delivery

With continued growth in e-commerce and heightened consumer expectations has come tremendous innovation in how last-mile delivery to customers takes place.

Today, algorithm-driven delivery models and analytics enable urban customers to get products delivered faster, more flexibly and sometimes less expensively than in the past. Options will continue to proliferate in the future, with innovative delivery vehicles such as drones, robots and driverless vehicles reducing, or perhaps some day eliminating, the need for delivery personnel.

This paper provides an overview of the landscape of last-mile delivery, emerging business models and key technological innovations. In particular, the paper examines innovations related to advanced algorithms and analytics, delivery drones, delivery robots, and self-driving vehicles – their advantages and limitations and potential applications for last-mile delivery.

Stanford Value Chain Innovation Initiative in Collaboration with United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General