Google Leverages Maps Data When Entering Last Mile Market

In an inefficient, costly, yet vital part of the supply chain, Google saw an opportunity to capitalize on the capabilities of its Maps platform and move into last-mile services.

The tech giant laid claim to its claim in the home delivery space in March with the launch of two tools – Last Mile Fleet Solution and Cloud Fleet Routing API – focused respectively on last mile fulfillment and delivery planning. routes.

Google’s foray into fleet management technology comes as no surprise to Jim Nicholson, senior vice president of operations at Loadsmart. He likened it to Amazon’s entry into the logistics space: a natural next step for the company’s broader ambitions. Heavy financial resources and years of Google Maps improvements should help the company in its foray into space.

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“Having a leading web mapping platform absolutely gives them a big opportunity and a certain edge over the competition,” Nicholson said.

Google is bringing a wealth of Maps data and a familiar navigation interface to a space that has seen increased attention as demand for home delivery has exploded. U.S. parcel volumes exceeded 21.5 billion in 2021, compared to pre-pandemic levels of 15.5 billion in 2019, according to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index.

More efficient route planning and execution has become essential in response to the growing number of parcels. Since the last mile is the most expensive and least efficient part of the delivery process, avoiding errors such as an inaccurate address is key, said Shalin Mantri, group product manager at Google Maps. Platform, which oversees its transportation and logistics vertical. Fleet operators receive addresses in different quality states, and this is one of the main causes of failed deliveries, he said.

“A failure on this package basically means it’s not profitable for the fleet operator,” Mantri said.

Map quality and data ownership could be key advantages in the last mile space in the future. Customers of Google’s last-mile offerings will likely only help the company further improve its own mapping accuracy, said Rick Watson, founder and CEO of RMW Commerce Consulting. in a LinkedIn post.

“Listen to any Amazon Flex driver and one of their biggest complaints is about their route, maps, etc. Watson wrote.

Google targets delivery execution, route planning

The foundation of Last Mile Fleet Solution is the Google Maps Platform tool for ride-hailing and on-demand delivery providers, which launched in 2020 and has seen “tremendous traction”, Mantri said. This interest has led Google to bring many of these capabilities to last-mile delivery fleets.

Last Mile Fleet Solution aims to help fleet operators improve various aspects of the last mile delivery process, including navigating using the well-known Google Maps interface, capturing addresses, scheduling routes and shipment tracking. It brings Google Maps navigation capabilities to the driver, while fleet operators and end consumers have real-time visibility into the status of the package in its delivery journey, Mantri said. It is currently available to select customers in public preview before moving to general availability.

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Illustrative example of shipment tracking using last mile fleet solution.

Courtesy of Google

The Cloud Fleet Routing API, which is now generally available, focuses on route planning. It helps fleet operators create accurate routing plans at scale, while being able to re-optimize an existing plan up to 20 times per day at no additional cost, said Christopher Cho, product manager of Google Cloud AI. and IndustrySolutions. in an April blog post. Reoptimization may be necessary in cases such as traffic congestion.

Many companies already offer delivery route planning solutions, such as Circuit, Onfleet and Route4Me. Mantri said part of what separates Google’s offerings from competitors is that it brings “an integrated cloud and mapping platform” throughout the last-mile delivery process. This integration is essential to prevent information such as destination addresses from getting lost in translation, he added.

“If you use different maps or different geocoding between the entry point of an address and downstream execution, it’s like playing a telephone game, isn’t it? said Mantri.

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