Recently, the Value Chain Innovation Initiative at the Stanford Graduate School of Business hosted a one-day symposium titled “The Future of Last Mile Delivery.” As one would expect in the heart of Silicon Valley, panelists discussed futuristic drones, autonomous vehicles, robots and other cutting-edge technologies. Almost as intriguing, e-commerce incumbents like UPS and Walmart shared how they are deploying technology and strategy in the last mile.

For a guy like me, who used to own and manage an old-school, white-glove delivery company-box trucks, 9 locations around the country, burly guys carrying 500 pound treadmills up flights of stairs – this was fascinating stuff. Five themes emerged.

  1. Amazon is on Everyone's Mind
  2. Retail Locations are Becoming Fulfillment Centers
  3. There Will Be No Singular "Last Mile" Revolution
  4. Asset-Based Networks Serve Baseline Demand Remarkably Well
  5. Technology and Capital Will Replace Humans