Top Last-Mile Delivery Companies

January 4, 2021
A man in a white shirt and brown baseball cap makes a note on a clipboard. He is standing at the open door of a delivery van full of plain, unbranded cardboard boxes.

As technology advances and continues to make our lives easier, the demand for greater convenience increases. 

This is no exception when it comes to small businesses. Customers expect an easy buying experience from their preferred companies - meaning brick and mortar businesses are migrating online and looking at new ways to deliver their goods to local consumers. 

For the average American small business, it’s estimated that net profit could fall by up to 26% over the next three years if they don’t offer last-mile delivery services.1

What is last-mile delivery?

Last-mile delivery is the movement of goods from a transportation hub, warehouse, or business to their final delivery destination. That final destination can be a personal residence, another business, a construction site, and more. This means that last mile delivery can be B2C or B2B. 

Why is last-mile delivery important?

A well-managed last-mile delivery is important because it allows customers to receive their orders as quickly (and as easily) as possible. To stay competitive in today’s climate, it is nearly impossible for a business to avoid offering a delivery option. 

We often think of last-mile delivery in the context of getting products to consumers’ homes, but the industry is far more wide-reaching than just e-commerce or grocery. Even the construction industry is focused on making deliveries more efficient, with niche technology companies existing to help dump trucks optimize their material dispatch!

While the need for optimized delivery is wide-reaching, the massive rise in online shopping has made the need for B2C last mile delivery greater than ever.

Last-mile delivery is particularly important for small local businesses. Businesses who make local deliveries are by default 'last-mile delivery companies' even though they wouldn't often identify this way. 

Why is last-mile delivery so difficult?

Last-mile delivery requires a great deal of logistical planning and execution. All areas of the process need to run smoothly in order to deliver a great customer experience.

Last-mile delivery is the most expensive part of any supply chain. The unfortunate truth is that despite small businesses having tight budgets, they are often stuck with this responsibility and cost. On top of managing the stressful day-to-day of a small business, navigating last-mile delivery can feel overwhelming.

Choosing the right last-mile delivery solution

Choosing the right last-mile delivery solution is essential to your business’ success. There are two main options to help with the last-mile delivery dilemmas that small businesses face. 

The two ways to approach last-mile delivery:

  1. Outsource to a third-party delivery service
  2. Do it in-house with your own fleet

Both have their unique benefits and challenges. Outsourcing can often be more expensive but more hands-off, while in-house can be an easier process to manage internally and result in a better customer experience overall. For more on the pros and cons of outsourced versus in-house delivery, check out our deep-dive article.  

Knowing which last-mile delivery solution is right for your small business can be tricky. That’s why we put together a detailed list of the top last-mile delivery companies.

In the list below we will discuss:

  • The major last-mile delivery companies
  • The more niche last-mile delivery companies
  • How you as a small business can do last-mile delivery, in-house, in the most efficient way possible

Top Last-Mile Delivery Companies

  1. FedEx
  2. UPS
  3. Purolator
  4. Postmates
  5. Instacart 
  6. Uber Eats
  7. JustEat

Let’s dive into each last-mile delivery company in detail...

1. FedEx

FedEx is an American multinational delivery company, servicing nearly every country in the world. Established in 1971, FedEx is one of the major players in the shipping industry and certainly handles more than just last-mile delivery.

top last-mile delivery companies_fedex

Solutions & features:

  • Same day delivery
  • Cold chain solutions for medical and any other packages that need to remain at a certain temperature
  • Advanced tracking on urgent and high-value deliveries
  • On-time express parcel delivery guarantee, or your money back
  • Free packaging
  • Fast customs clearing system
  • Real-time delivery tracking
  • Delivery Manager, which offers timely delivery notifications and options to reschedule or redirect shipments
  • Delivery status notifications by email
  • Simple return process

Innovations: FedEx has grown with the demand of their industry by testing and implementing innovative solutions like computer-assisted vehicles, artificial intelligence, robotics, and drones.

Perfect for: Enterprise businesses dealing in e-commerce, retail, technology and electronics, healthcare, consumer goods, and industrial products who are looking to have items delivered outside of their local area.

2. UPS

UPS, short for United Parcel Service, is an American multinational package delivery and supply chain management company. Founded in 1907, it is one of the oldest delivery companies in the world and like its main competitors, does much more than just last-mile delivery.

Solutions & features: 

  • Simple return services
  • Delivery status notifications by email
  • API integration options
  • Extended hours and expanded weekend delivery coverage
  • Cold chain solutions
  • Large customer service team

Innovations: UPS has moved into some very innovative spaces, including drone delivery services, AI, and electric-assisted cargo tricycles that reduce traffic congestion and emissions.

Perfect for: Enterprise businesses in the e-commerce, healthcare, tech, retail and consumer goods, and industrial products industries who are looking to ship items outside of their local area.

3. Purolator

Purolator is a Canadian delivery company owned mostly by the 

Canada’s postal service. They specialize in deliveries within Canada and International deliveries shipping to Canada.

Solutions & features: 

  • Same day courier delivery service
  • Specialized handling for goods that are large in size, weight, and dimensions
  • Less-than-truckload service - used for the transportation of small freight or when freight doesn't require the use of an entire trailer
  • Fast, flexible transportation management
  • Unique access to the two largest end-delivery networks in Canada
  • Large customer service team

Innovations: Purolator has made some big moves in innovation, including zero-emission fleets (electric low-speed vehicles and electric cargo bikes) as well as automated self-serve parcel lockers to help reduce contact.

Perfect for: Enterprise businesses dealing in e-commerce, fashion and apparel, or technology. Purolator is great for companies who are looking for more than just last-mile delivery and needing to ship things outside of their local area.

4. Postmates

Postmates is an American company that offers local delivery of restaurant-prepared meals and other goods. Customers who download the app can order delivery or pickup from over half a million restaurants, retailers, grocers, and more across the United States and in Mexico City. Their mission is to enable anyone to have anything delivered on-demand

Solutions & features

  • Full visibility of the delivery status
  • Available 24/7
  • Deliveries made within an hour — either by bike or by car
  • Ability to reach new customers

Innovations: Like many of the major delivery companies, Postmates is also testing drone delivery options.

Perfect for: Local businesses whose customers require on-demand delivery. E.g. retail, restaurants, pharmacies, office supply companies, grocery stores — you name it and Postmate is likely able to help with delivery. While it’s great for on-demand delivery, if your business works with planned delivery, there may be better options - keep reading!

5. Instacart

Instacart is an on-demand grocery delivery platform that facilitates doorstep deliveries of groceries and other home essentials in major cities across the USA. The grocery delivery market has boomed in recent years and Instacart offers a simple solution to grocery stores and consumers; however, this type of service is often expensive and retailers give up their control over the delivery experience.

Solutions & features:

  • Full-service shopper
  • Delivered or ready for pickup in as little as 2 hours
  • Attract new customers

Innovation: Instacart was a leader in the high-tech solution for grocery delivery, winning Fast Company’s 2015 award for innovation in retail. Their trailblazing paved the way for many of the innovations of other last-mile delivery companies on this list. Instacart is also expanding beyond their ‘bread and butter’ grocery delivery, recently partnering with Best Buy and Sephora. 

Perfect for: Local businesses in the USA or Canada, outsourcing grocery and home essential delivery to customers in their local area.

6. Uber Eats

Uber Eats is an American online food ordering and delivery platform. The Uber Eats app launched in 2014, allowing consumers to order food and beverages from their favorite local restaurants, grocery stores, or liquor stores. Like most third-party delivery companies, Uber Eats can be quite expensive for a local company to pursue.

top last mile delivery companies_uber eats_compressed

Solutions & features:

  • Real-time order tracking
  • Easy to use platform
  • Secure payment platform
  • Ability to reach new customers

Innovations: UberEats has expanded to serve 20 countries around the world, including Canada and the UK. They offer integrations with virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. Plus, UberEats has also been testing drones and driverless cars as a delivery method.

Perfect for: Local restaurants, grocery stores, and liquor stores looking to serve their nearby customers by offering a delivery option.

7. Just Eat

Just Eat is a global online food delivery marketplace that connects consumers and restaurants through its platform in 24 countries across the globe - including Canada, England, and Australia.

Solutions & features

  • Easy-to-use and secure app
  • Multi-restaurant option in one transaction
  • Ability to attract new customers

Innovations: Just Eat has partnered with a drone company that promises a 3-minute delivery time.

Perfect for: Local food and beverage companies that don’t offer their own delivery but are looking to serve nearby customers.

In-house last-mile delivery

Many small businesses have traditionally shied away from managing deliveries in-house because they think it's too expensive or complicated, but that has been changing dramatically over the past few years.

No matter if you need on-demand delivery or can plan deliveries in advance, taking these services in-house can actually save your small business time and money. In-house last-mile delivery also gives companies full control over the experience and typically leads to an increase in customer satisfaction. 

last mile delivery companies_team unloading delivery boxes in warehouse

Maximize your-in-house last-mile delivery efforts

If your company is thinking about handling deliveries in-house, or if you are already doing so, you probably have a good sense of how hard this “last step” can feel. The best way to improve last-mile delivery is through route optimization.

Route optimization uses an advanced algorithm to plan the fastest, most cost-effective routes for drivers to take — getting your product to the customer in the best time, for the lowest price possible. 

Who doesn’t love saving time AND money?

For home delivery, Routific offers route optimization that lowers cost-per-delivery by up to 40%. The software comes complete with streamlined route planning capabilities, dispatch and customer communication features, real-time driver tracking, data-backed reporting, and Shopify integrations.

Routific is the only tool on the market that is designed for local businesses that offer home delivery of goods like food and beverages, flowers, home appliances, furniture, and laundry. We help businesses save time, increase profitability, and deliver a 5-star, last-mile delivery experience that includes contactless delivery.

With a little help from Routific, you’ll be able to do what the major delivery companies do, at a lower cost, and with a lot more control. See for yourself! Routific offers a no-obligation, 7 day free trial. Get started with our last mile delivery software and start saving.

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Portrait of Suzanne Ma
Suzanne Ma
Suzanne Ma is a former journalist and published author turned co-founder at Routific, a route optimization platform. She loves to capture inspiring stories from small business entrepreneurs, and share their journeys of growth alongside Routific. As a Product Marketer, she ensures that the community stays up to date on the latest innovations at Routific.

Frequently Asked Questions

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