Suburban vs Urban Delivery Logistics: Not As Similar As You Might Think
Adam Price

Hi Adam, I’m not sure if the guys at Medium thought the Response area as the place to ask questions but I’ll go anyway.

What causes me a lot of curiosity about the delivery logistics business is that almost everyone is trying to solve the problem in the same way, offering hand to hand deliveries; some with bikes, some with motorbikes, some with vans and some mixing all the of them, but at the end, they’re all hand to hand delivery services. And even when this is good for customers because is very close to the ideal scenario (I buy it now and I have it instantly), we all know that most of the times the ideal scenario is at the same time impossible because is extremely expensive to satisfy the need for everyone.

If I’m not wrong, human being has reach the ideal scenario with only three or four commodities: fresh water –you open the tap and there it is– light and heating/cooking gas –you switch on the key and there it is– and Internet/phone/communication, you call it.

So, as I see it, the problem that delivery logistics has to reach the ideal scenario is a known-to-all suspect: the last mile. The last mile has always been the last barrier and the most expensive to solve but in the examples above we can all agree that it has been very well solved.

I don’t know how they were solved in USA but I have a clear picture of how they were solved here in Spain because 40 years ago (I’m 33), we were saying goodbye to an autarky dictatorship and entering a parliamentary democracy. Big cities evolved faster but It wasn’t many years ago when small and medium towns had a unique water source at the main square or the only land-phones available for everybody were in pubs or bars. Water, phone and electricity arrived sooner or later to the front door of buildings and condos but many of them were not enough prepared because they were built way before. In this cases, last mile wasn’t a problem any more but last 20–50 metres were. Finally, it’s 2016 and almost every accommodation in Spain, unless you’d chosen to live far from cities and close to nature, have access to electricity, water, gas and Internet.

Last lustrum we’ve had the opportunity to revive again the last mile problem with the fiber-optic installation, I lived it from the very inside because I’ve worked during 3 years for the Spanish incumbent, and again reaching the main entrance of buildings and condos were/is (they’re still on it) kind of affordable for Telcos but wiring them is the expensive part and none of them want to pay for it. In fact, the Spanish Competition Regulator is forcing the incumbent to share the verticals with competitors.

The conclusion I extract reading your post, and I go back to talk about delivery logistics, is that the last mile is not a problem any more but the last 50 metres are. Last 20, 50 or 100 metres, depending if the delivery guy have to deliver to a 27th floor or to a home in a suburban area, are killing the business, are destroying your deliveries/hour ratio and are keeping the efficiency of the channel low enough to burn more tons of VC money than they’d like. However, we have dozens of startups raising and burning money to solve to whole last mile but none of them are trying to solve the 90% of the last mile except the last meters which is the expensive and problematic part.

So, being involved in this, what’s your opinion about this?