A recurring topic here on Linguablog is how different communities develop their own words, expressions, and even entire languages.
And, these communities don’t have to populate a country. They can be a relatively small group of people meeting online to talk about gaming.
However, these communities can also come in the form of groups of people working the same job.
You probably know what I am talking about if you’ve ever listened to people in finance speaking with each other.
Another vocation with its own terms and expressions is that of logistics.
If you don’t know what logistics is, it is that field responsible for making sure you get those brand new shoes you ordered from Amazon a couple of weeks ago.
And, you have already been exposed to some of the terms of the field.
For instance, when you track the products you purchase online, the different updates you get tend to contain terms used within logistics.
A classic case in point, one that can confuse those unfamiliar with it, is “out for delivery.”
What does “out for delivery” mean?
“Out for delivery” means that the package you bought is on the truck that will drop it at your doorstep. It is another way of saying that the package is on its way to you and should be in your possession today or tomorrow at the latest.
But, to get a better idea of what “out for delivery” entails, we need to discuss how your products get delivered to you in the first place and what “Last Mile Delivery” is.
Logistics and the delivery process
Logistics is the lifeblood of any supply chain. Whereas a supply chain looks at how different parts of an industry interrelate together, logistics concerns itself with moving resources from one link in the chain to the other.
It is a field that concerns itself with shipping, storage, and other aspects of managing resources in transit.
Logistics today have become so intricate and complex that a detailed discussion of all the steps required to deliver your products far exceeds the scope of this article.
Instead, we are interested in how the delivery steps relate to the notifications you get when you are tracking a package.
To make things simple, let’s imagine that you are tracking a package that is being delivered by UPS. What follows are some of the terms and expressions you will probably see.
On its way to you, your package will undoubtedly have to make several pit stops. It will pass by a few facilities, some of which may be in different countries.
“Arrival scan” means that your package has arrived at a UPS facility and has been scanned. In other words, it is on the move.
Yet, this doesn’t mean that your package will arrive tomorrow.
There might be several days between an “arrival scan” and another “arrival scan,” depending on how far the two facilities are from each other and whether they are in the same country or in different countries.
“Departure scan” sort of stands in opposition to “Arrival scan.” It means that your package has left a UPS facility.
Once your package leaves a facility, it will be moving within the UPS network. At this stage, your package will be considered “In Transit.”
This means that your package has finally arrived at its last UPS facility. This is a local facility, one that is probably close to you, and the package should shortly leave the facility and head to you.
Out For Delivery
We are now in the final stretch. The package has left the local UPS facility and is on a truck on its way to you.
When you receive the package, then its status will have been “Delivered.”
Last Mile Delivery
In logistics, “last mile delivery” is the term used to describe the rather short trip your package takes from the final local facility to your place.
It is the idea that each package should reach the customer’s doorstep rather than having the customers pick up the package themselves from the nearby facility.
The term “Out For Delivery” refers to the phase of “Last Mile Delivery.”
Now, you might think that delivering packages to customers’ homes might seem like an obvious idea, one that doesn’t exactly warrant plenty of scrutiny. However, you’d be wrong.
“Last Mile Delivery” is one of the most complicated processes in the field of logistics, and it poses a serious problem to companies all over the world.
In fact, if there is any possibility of innovation or disruption in the field of logistics, it will probably have something to do with the last mile problem.
What is the last mile problem?
Within the shipping process, the most expensive and time-draining part is “Last Mile Delivery.”
For starters, you might have a sense of the problem if you ever saw that your package was “Out For Delivery,” yet it seemed to take forever for the package to arrive.
You probably felt that the process was inefficient somehow, and, this time, you were right.
You see, while packages are shipped in bulk, “Last Mile Delivery” means that each package will be dropped off individually, so companies can no longer benefit from economies of scale.
Additionally, a truck delivering several products might have to travel several miles between each drop-off.
Ergo, planning routes for trucks can be a source of great inefficiency if done incorrectly.
Another problem, rural areas can be so expansive that even optimally planned routes will take a long time to fulfill.
Alternatively, urban areas can be congested, which means that a delivery truck can easily get stuck in traffic.
Because of all of this, “Last Mile Delivery” can prove expensive to companies.
In fact, “Last Mile Delivery” can easily comprise more than half of the entire cost of shipping the product.
This is not to mention that the last mile problem has been exacerbated recently.
For one thing, e-commerce is on the rise, which means that more and more packages need to be delivered, complicating the problem further.
On the other hand, customers are expecting free and efficient shipping, so any issues with “Last Mile Delivery” will end up getting shouldered by the company.
Can a package be “Out For Delivery” yet still arrive late?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes, especially during periods of high activity, such as the holidays and special days like Black Friday.
The point is that if a delivery company is overwhelmed by the number of packages it has to deliver, this can have a ripple effect on everybody expecting packages.
For one thing, some countries limit the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to be on the road behind the wheel, so if a driver reaches their limit before finishing their route, they have to bring back all the undelivered packages to the local facility.
Consequently, a package that was supposed to arrive today can take up two or more days to make it to its destination.
You can just add this to the problems and complications involved with “Last Mile Delivery.”
All of this shines a new light on “Out For Delivery,” doesn’t it? I bet you won’t be looking at that phrase the same way again.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.