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Criminal justice expert Dr. Ben Stickle asserts that, “the assumption that the retail supply chain ends when the products are delivered to the customer’s doorstep... is an outdated perception that does not fit the diverse needs of the consumer… Because most packages are left unattended at the consumer’s doorstep, the items are vulnerable to product loss, damage and theft.” Considering package theft alone, he cites a survey estimate that “over 35 million Americans were the victims of the crime in 2020, resulting in approximately 5.4 billion dollars in financial losses.” Dr Stickle suggests that the e-commerce delivery “industry needs to focus not merely on ‘The Last Mile’ of the package delivery process but ‘The Last Foot,’ so to speak… While this section of the supply chain may be the shortest, both in time and space, it is fraught with the most risks, highest losses, and significant impact to many stakeholders,” especially the retailers. Studies indicate that “issues at the last foot are rarely seen as delivery company responsibility; blame and poor brand trust are assigned to the retailer. As the direct contact with the consumer shrinks, the experience at the last foot needs to be positive.” And retailers need to own and maintain this relationship. Alternative Delivery Options Conventional residential mailboxes and neighborhood cluster boxes have met the needs of parcel delivery for decades, yet recent growth in volume and average package size are resulting in problematic overflow and re-delivery. UPS, FedEx, and USPS, of course, provide alternative package pick-up accommodations at their own locations for undeliverable articles and for customers who aren’t home at the time of delivery, and they are consistently expanding access points in partnerships with major retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Staples. Buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) is another alternative access option that will certainly resume activity when consumers begin to venture out from under COVID-19 again. By the end of summer 2020, the share of retailers offering this omnichannel option had already jumped to 44%. A growing number of parcel locker operators are providing expanded package pick-up accommodation as well. They offer convenient contactless access in retail shopping, office, and commutation locations. It’s no surprise that Amazon Hub is a major player, while independent operators Smiota, Parcel Pending, and Pitney Bowes are all expanding their reach. The Household Threshold Is the Battle Line New battle lines are being drawn along thresholds at front doors across America as the latest wave of e-commerce delivery entrepreneurs prepares for “Door Wars” over the ideal solution for consumers to actually get their hands on their goods, on their terms! Beth DeCarbo of The Wall Street Journal recognized the trend in “last step” innovation during the depth of the pandemic. “To eliminate the need to leave home to retrieve a package, a number of companies offer smart locks and boxes for use at home. BoxLock, for example, sells a Wi-Fi connected lock that collects tracking information on coming SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2021  PARCELindustry.com 41