The rush for quick deliveries has caused a revolution in transport logistics, especially in the so-called last mile – the last step in the process of transporting goods to the consumer. With the growth of online sales and internal changes within companies, with a reduction in inventories, transport and logistics companies had to invest heavily in technology and in a varied menu of alternatives to reach the customer.
If in the past, goods took weeks to arrive, today it can only take a few hours, depending on the location. For this, it is worth using the vehicle that is faster, be it truck, car, motorcycle, bicycle or on foot. In most cases, companies use outsourced fleet in a kind of “uber cargo”. Offers are placed in an application and the registered driver accepts or not the established routes, as occurs at Loggi and at ASAP.
The investment in technology is essential to be able to trace routes with consolidated loads by regions and areas. This is what helps speed up the service, considering that there are thousands of deliveries per day. only in e-commerce, there were 78.5 million purchases between January and March this year – growth of 57.4% compared to the same period last year. At the Valentine’s Day, there were 14 million orders, according to data from Neotrust – a market intelligence company focused on e-commerce.
Faced with these growing numbers, companies had to rush to adopt measures and meet demand. “Innovations were hastened by the pandemic, which caught many carriers on the back foot. Until then, only 2% of companies were talking about digitization, which is essential to meet the last mile, which requires quick responses”, says Antonio Wrobleski, chairman of the board. Pathfind, a kind of Waze that optimizes routes and allows the management of truck fleets.
For those who already had innovation in their DNA, the pandemic generated a series of opportunities. At Loggi, a company that was born with the proposal to create the logistics of the future, the volume of deliveries grew 360% in 2020 compared to the previous period. The company’s Vice President of Operations, Rafael Mandelbaum, says that making these last miles requires high technology to create an intelligent route model. On average, the company’s delivery time is two days, but in several locations it manages to deliver on the same day.
The executive says that today the company operates with almost 100% of an outsourced fleet. Delivery people are individual micro-entrepreneurs and each one uses the modal they prefer. “In places where cars are restricted, drivers choose a parking spot and make deliveries on foot.”
At ASAP Log, a company purchased in 2020 by Via, even a Uber driver provides services for the company, which works with its own and outsourced fleet. The company has ten rented electric vans and is testing eight motorcycles with an attached trailer. But, according to the partner at the company, Rafael Mendes, most deliveries are made by self-employed professionals.
On Black Friday last year, he says, deliveries were even made by school vans, which at the time were idle because of online classes. Created eight years ago, ASAP serves, in addition to Via, clients such as the Riachuelo, Eudora and Casa e Vídeo retail chains. It operates in 500 municipalities across the country and has 380,000 registered delivery workers. In August, the volume of deliveries was 419 thousand – 47% higher than in July. On average, there are 17.4 thousand deliveries per day.
JSL President Ramon Alcaraz says the impact of the pandemic on the sector was “giant”. People who weren’t adept at e-commerce have experienced and enjoyed the online universe, he says. “And this changed the way of doing logistics in the country, and also brought a huge challenge, which is to deliver goods quickly, but at a low cost.” Given the size of the challenge, JSL bought the fadel – specialized in urban distribution – in the second half of 2020, the result of a negotiation that started before the pandemic.
Currently, the company handles around 70,000 orders per day, between companies and individual consumers. In the last mile, the company works with partners to make deliveries. In some cases, they use bicycles and motorcycles, but as the volume is large – around 150 to 200 orders per delivery – it must be a car or a van.
At jamef, a company that has been in the market for 58 years, there are studies on the use of bicycles and electric cars in deliveries – a measure that would solve ESG issues (environmental, social and governance practices) of the carrier. Specialist in fractional cargo, the company has just expanded its deliveries by road to five states: Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Piauí, Maranhão and Tocantins – regions that until then were served only by air transport.
With the advance of demand in the last mile, the company created the entrepreneurial driver program, in which the professional rents a car with the rental company and starts providing services for Jamef. The idea is to have 200 vehicles in the entire country, says the company’s president, Ricardo Botelho. “The initiative will improve our customer’s door-to-door delivery capability.”
Last year, the company grew 15%, and should keep pace in 2021. In addition to e-commerce, he explains that changes in the frequency of supply to stores and distribution centers, which have reduced their inventories, have also accelerated growth of the segment. “The change started with the companies’ need for cash flow during social isolation and ended up generating more logistical efficiency.”
Drone delivery test
the german giant DHL it has even done tests with drones to try to speed up its deliveries, whose deadline today varies from one to two days. But, for now, the means of transport has not proved to be economically viable, says the Vice President of Transport at DHL Supply Chain, Fábio Miquelin. According to him, the company is always attentive to market news that may bring benefits to the operation.
But it is the investment in systems, vehicles and warehouses that has made the company’s work increasingly efficient. “We understand people’s consumption needs and position ourselves close to them. Today the company has warehouses in every state in the country, which speeds up daily deliveries.”
Unlike most companies in the sector, DHL works with its own cars. There are more than five thousand vehicles throughout Brazil. The company’s focus now is to try to make this fleet cleaner. The project started with 100 electric vehicles for loads of up to 2 tons. Until next year, the expectation is to double the number of cars. “But the country does not encourage decarbonization,” says Miquelin.
Another that is investing to grab a share of the last mile market is Braspress. The company purchased 170 medium trucks to sustain this market growth, says the Director of Operations, Luiz Carlos Lopes. With 75% of its own fleet, the carrier also works with some partners throughout Brazil. Today, e-commerce sales represent 12% of the company’s deliveries.