What is a last mile driver and what are last mile delivery companies to work for?

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The idea of using independent contractor drivers to get people and things from Point A to Point B has caught on, wouldn’t you say? Rideshare and delivery drivers know they have a pretty good gig; one that enables them to choose their working hours and still make pretty good money.

You may be intimately familiar with being a grocery shopper, rideshare or food delivery driver. Among the downsides to these driving gigs can be dealing with people, as well as the sheer repetition. If you’re ready to think about doing something new, you’re going to love what you’ll read in this post, which is all about being a last mile driver. Here’s what we’ll cover.

  • What is a last mile driver?
  • Why would you want to be a last mile driver?
  • What tools do last mile drivers need?
  • What are some last mile delivery companies to work for?

What is a last mile driver?

A last mile driver delivers goods from a local warehouse to the customer. The term “last mile” refers to the third category of the three-part logistical process of product distribution that breaks down like this:

  1. First mile: The manufacturer releases the item(s) for shipping;
  2. Middle mile: The item is conveyed by a long-haul transportation process that may involve ports, customs, and other intricate procedures;
  3. Last mile (aka, the final mile): The item is delivered to the customer from a local warehouse or fulfillment center.

This graphic, from the Merchants Fleet website, shows the full picture.

As you can see, the task of the last mile delivery driver is pretty straightforward. Lots of companies use their own fleets for these local deliveries, while others have caught on to what rideshare and food delivery companies have been doing for years. Now there are apps that let drivers work as last mile drivers in the same way they work at the usual types of driving gigs.

As a last mile driver, you deliver packages (usually small ones) to customers who are at the end of the logistical supply chain. You’d want the freedom to work with the company you choose to sign on with, in terms of the blocks of time the company sets and deadlines. We’ll look more closely at that in a bit. First, let’s see what’s in it for you with this last mile driver thing.

Why would you want to be a last mile driver?

Being a last mile driver definitely has some advantages. This might appeal to you, for instance, if you just need a break from dealing with people. After all, the job is quite simple: You drive to a warehouse or distribution center, fill your vehicle with boxes, get on your way, and deliver the parcels one by one. 

You won’t have to deal with passengers, rude restaurant staff, or deadbeat customers, nor will you have to trudge through grocery stores on a mission to find bananas at the exact stage of ripeness the customer ordered. You won’t have to deal with paying for customer orders, eliminating onion smells from your ventilation system, or cleaning up an unruly passenger’s mess from your back seat.

Here are some other aspects of being a last mile driver that might appeal to you:

  • Consistent income: Most companies that need last mile drivers have a steady supply of items for you to deliver.
  • No need to solicit business: You won’t have to wait around for a big event to let out, or cruise campus neighborhoods until the college crowd starts to order in the late-night nosh supplies. You’ll get your work handed to you – literally.
  • Less mileage: Most likely, your package deliveries will be assigned to a concentrated area, saving you gas, time, and wear and tear on your vehicle.
  • More exercise: You won’t be stuck behind the wheel for hours on end – and carrying packages can build up the guns!

Another thing you might like about being a last mile driver is … the money. Drivers can make from $18 to $29 per hour.

What tools do last mile drivers need?

As a last mile driver, you’ll need to look at your business a bit differently than with other types of gigs. While you might not have to keep your car looking good cosmetically, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right size. Here’s more about that and some other items you’ll need to be a well-prepared last mile driver.

Your vehicle. First, it needs to be large enough to accommodate a decent number of packages. Also, you may want to invest in seat covers or a trunk liner to make sure the packages don’t wind up scratching or soiling your interior.

Your phone. You’ll need a decent smartphone that can handle the app(s) you use. Check out this Gridwise post for some ideas. 

Your clothes and shoes. Keep in mind you’re going to be carrying packages in all kinds of weather. Make sure you have comfortable clothes that fit the guidelines of the company you’re working for, and that your shoes are comfortable and can get through muddy, wet, or snowy driveways and front walkways.

Your favorite app (of course!) Download Gridwise to get all these features: 

  • Airport information: arrivals, departures, and queue lengths at your location
  • Weather: current information and weather alerts
  • Traffic alerts
  • Gas deals: save up to $0.25 per gallon with Gridwise Gas
  • Tips and tricks about driving gigs from our blog

On top of all this great information, Gridwise will track your earnings and expenses automatically. Just link your gig apps to Gridwise and enter expenses as they arise, then you can see how well you’re doing at your new last mile driving gig on graphs like these:

Whether you switch to last mile driving only, or want to mix it up with rideshare and other kinds of delivery, Gridwise helps to track it all with just a few taps on your screen. Download the app today, and join the community of great Gridwise drivers!

But before you get too carried away, let’s look at one last thing: what it takes to become a last mile driver.

What are some last mile delivery companies to work for?

We’re going to assume you want to use a gig platform when you work as a last mile driver, but there are other ways as well. Big box stores and logistics companies would hire you to work exclusively for them. Some of these jobs are full-time, while others let you work less than 40 hours a week. This page of reviews provides an example, outlining what it’s like to do deliveries for Home Depot. That’s just one example; we’ll leave it to you to find others, in case you’d like to look at a solid opportunity with a big company. 

Amazon, of course, is another company that has jobs for full-time last-mile drivers. Plus, there’s always UPS and FedEx, if you’re thinking full-time would be a good thing for you.

But, if you’re looking for good app-based gigs that give you the same kind of flexibility as rideshare and delivery, here are some top companies to consider. Be sure to click on the names to access Gridwise posts or direct links that go into the details of how to sign up, how much you can earn, and more. 

Amazon Flex: By far the most well-known delivery service, Amazon Flex gives drivers all the advantages of last mile driving. If you sign up to deliver Amazon Prime, you can use a four-door sedan vehicle without a problem. If you decide to take on larger Amazon deliveries, however, you might want to look into using a large SUV or even a small truck.

goPuff: This unique company focuses on the delivery of convenience store items without the need for drivers to do the shopping. Instead, goPuff gathers the ordered items in their warehouses, where drivers pick them up and do the last mile deliveries.

More options are popping up all the time. According to this article on the Modern Retail website, retail giants like Walmart and Best Buy are integrating last mile driving into their business models. And after acquiring last mile delivery company Deliv in 2020, Target is getting prepared, to (possibly) offer opportunities for gig drivers interested in being last mile drivers.

There are also many local delivery companies that might work with major retailers. Check in your local area, and you may be able to find a gig you can learn to love.

Now that you know what a last mile driver is, and what it takes to be one, you can decide if it’s worth sliding over from your rideshare, food, and grocery delivery duties to try it out. Let us know how it goes for you by leaving us some comments below!

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