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The Importance of Middle Mile Logistics in eCommerce

Time to read: 5 minutes

Delivery is essential to any eCommerce operation. Transporting items from a warehouse or fulfillment center to retail requires middle-mile transportation. It is the focal point of the delivery process, as its name implies. The other delivery segments are the first mile (transport from the manufacturer to the warehouse) and the last mile (transportation from the neighborhood warehouse to the client). Since it arrives at a customer’s address, the last mile of the procedure usually receives the most attention. All process phases are crucial, so all online merchants should pay attention to middle mile logistics.

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Product deliveries from a supplier or production facility are temporarily stored in warehouses. Your inventory is transported from these warehouses to a second location and shipped to clients or other retailers

Products frequently travel great distances after the production stage before reaching their final destination—the buyer’s hands. Companies must exercise great caution to ensure that shipments are made cost-effectively during these lengthy travels with several termini. 

Any operational efficiency businesses can provide them with a significant competitive advantage. Adopting innovations can be challenging in a well-established infrastructure. Therefore, online companies must do what they can to improve the middle-mile delivery process to keep this competitive edge. Concentrating on middle-mile delivery is critical because the sooner you do it, the better your position will be in the market.

While many eCommerce businesses concentrate on improving last-mile deliveries, the middle mile should not be overlooked. The entire distribution process can suffer if middle mile logistics becomes congested.

For instance, the final mile step is delayed if the truck can’t reach the warehouse. This means the warehouse shipment isn’t in time for delivery, which can impact customer satisfaction. Companies that want to remain competitive must change their supply chains as eCommerce becomes preferred.

Understanding Middle Mile Logistics Better

The last and middle mile transportation stages each have specific goals, challenges, and opportunities. However, both are important in enhancing the delivery process.

Middle Mile Delivery: Trends, Challenges, & Costs Explained (

The importance of last-mile logistics is well-known within the fleet management industry. Customer satisfaction depends on ensuring that products are sent from distribution centers to customers. It is more prevalent given that many customers request products delivered to their homes.

The main distinguishing factor between middle and last-mile logistics is where products are sent to. Last-mile delivery refers to the shipment of goods from a logistics center to its destination. That could be the customer or a retail establishment selling directly to customers. Middle mile delivery solely concerns the transfer of items between warehouses and distribution centers.

The last mile is often the most complex logistical stage. There are a lot more different destinations to organize and deal with. Things can be confusing when moving items from major distribution hubs directly to customers or to physical sites to sell. In contrast, only established shipping hubs and warehouses are a part of middle mile logistics. Thanks to this smaller network of facilities, warehouses, and distribution centers can work directly with carriers to streamline the shipping process. It also helps that these fulfillment centers were all built to transport products. 

Those in charge of warehouse operations must adjust the operations following the route and cargo carriers. Data must be used to facilitate the pickup of products from carriers. 

Delivery between the middle and last miles also differs significantly regarding the load’s size. Middle mile delivery deals primarily with bulk palletized shipments of substantially larger product quantities. Last-mile deliveries deal with substantially smaller cargo. These are typically in boxes or smaller packaging since they transport items straight to customers or stores. 

Middle mile logistics has a significant effect on your supply chain as a whole. Many eCommerce businesses involved in multi-location inventory management have found a noteworthy opportunity to improve their procedures in this operation. For instance, Amazon established the Middle Mile Planning Research and Optimization Science. This division focuses on figuring out how to distribute goods between suppliers and distribution centers, clear evidence of its middle mile delivery dedication.

Flexible, efficient operations that speed up warehouse transfers, product receiving, and shipping processes are essential. Additionally, many perform better when partially or automated. Examples of such solutions are pallet conveyor systems and automatic truck loading and unloading systems (for palletized stock). Automation of warehouse management and execution procedures enables effective, error-free operations. Efficiency speeds up middle mile delivery and boosts overall competitiveness.

eCommerce Opportunities with Middle Mile Logistics

A successful middle mile delivery system’s importance comes from its role as a structural support, much like a reliable highway system. Middle-mile logistics ensures your products’ efficiency and safety. In comparison, last-mile delivery focuses on how commodities reach their final locations.

Better Cost Effectiveness

eCommerce businesses of any size can afford a cost-effective middle-mile delivery system. It enables companies to pay less for the processing, shipping, and warehousing of their goods.

For instance, online merchants may quickly dispatch products to their separate fulfillment centers rather than renting a sizable warehouse. Renting would include additional costs for maintaining a warehouse for air conditioning, labor, and other operating components. Working with a third-party logistics partner ensures quick delivery, increasing customer satisfaction and reducing overhead costs.

Improved Last Mile Delivery

Coordinating several parcels, each going to a different destination, is one of the main difficulties in last-mile delivery. To deliver fewer packages, you’ll need more drivers. The last mile necessitates extra drivers, long driving times, and frequent breaks. 

Middle mile logistics improvements can enhance the customer experience and last-mile delivery. You need your middle mile deliveries to remain on schedule and proceed through the procedure as scheduled, as the last mile is so complicated. By streamlining the process, you can deliver on time and have more leeway to address issues during the last stretch. 

Statistics That Prove How Your Delivery is Important (

Build a More Flexible Supply Chain

Coordinating vehicles and the entire supply chain can increase efficiency by optimizing your middle mile delivery. Bottlenecks in the delivery or route process can be addressed much faster. With this flexibility and control, you can alter routes or contact the drivers directly to guarantee timely delivery. 

Diversifying your fleet of middle mile delivery drivers gives you better options when dealing with disruptions. For example, when a driver is unavailable or running behind schedule, you can simply share the load with other drivers immediately.

Adaptability and Automation

Optimizing their mid-mile operations allows online merchants more control, better asset utilization, and fewer errors. Having visibility over mid-mile delivery operations lets you respond to changes more swiftly and effectively. 

More companies now utilize automation and cutting-edge technologies for supply chain middle mile operations. Middle mile logistics addresses urban congestion and limits and can help design an efficient and more intelligent supply chain. These technologies range from automated cars and tracking systems to warehouse management systems (WMS).

Locating and preparing things before loading them into the truck is essential to preserve middle mile efficiency. By keeping track of inventory and order fulfillment levels, a WMS can make finding items in your warehouse simple. You can track when new merchandise is received and shipped using WMS. When you have that much control over your warehouse operations, it’s simple to determine whether it’s time to restock a product. Advanced analytics can also provide insights when you can lower inventory and sell the items you already have.

A simplified middle mile logistics system is now crucial due to online shipping and contract manufacturing. Your process serves as a framework. Maximizing the flow of commodities creates a supply chain that is seamless, effective, and affordable. An adequately established middle mile delivery system encourages overall operational success across industries. It can ease port congestion issues, enhance cost-effectiveness, or facilitate inventory management.

Middle mile logistics is a topic that eCommerce business owners are becoming more and more interested in. To ensure that their supply chains run well, businesses with warehouses in several locations need to optimize the final link in the chain. 

ZhenHub simplifies your eCommerce operations with our logistics software solutions. Get middle mile logistics integrations with our globally connected fulfillment centers, optimized for multi-platform integrations. Sign up now to access our online dashboard. 

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