Adapting to Gen Z: The Key to Thriving in Last-Mile Logistics

Last-mile logistics providers must evolve if they hope to keep up with the rise of the Gen Z consumer. This tech-savvy generation’s high expectations for convenience, speed, and transparency have pushed retailers to overhaul the fulfillment and logistics process.

Traditional fulfillment models no longer pass muster. Gen Z prefers advanced technologies offering more agile, customer-centric solutions. Businesses that fail to anticipate – and meet – the needs of this influential cohort, may find themselves struggling to compete.

“According to McKinsey research, 75% of Gen Z customers favor speedy shipping above all else, with 40% expecting same-day delivery,” said Jen Seran, Director of Business Operations for Stallion Express in Canada. “Furthermore, Gen Zers are more likely to prefer stores that provide free returns and simple return policies. Unfortunately, many eCommerce firms cannot match these expectations, with 56% of Gen Z customers reporting delays or problems with online orders.”

Who is Gen Z?

Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, Gen Z – sometimes called Zoomers – is more than another cohort of digital natives. They’re redefining consumer expectations and behaviors in ways that significantly impact last-mile logistics.

This instant gratification demographic prioritizes convenience and speed above all else. “Gen Z wants access no matter the time zone,” said Brooke Paulin, CEO and founder of Biohacker Supply. “They are used to a state of perpetual availability.”

Gen Z behaviors and expectations differ significantly from previous generations. While Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) witnessed the rise of the internet and mobile technology, they value user-friendly interfaces and prefer to shop via mobile devices. However, they’re more tolerant of minor problems in the fulfillment and logistics processes than Gen Z.

Generation X (born mid-1960s to late 1970s) transitioned from analog to digital, adapting to e-commerce as the technology advanced. Unlike Millennials and Gen Z, this cohort prefers straightforward and reliable websites, and prefers desktops over mobile for online shopping.

What are Gen Z’s Shopping Habits?

Gen Z has grown up with instant access to information and services, shaping their expectations for quicker and more transparent deliveries, said Andrew Grella, CEO and founder of Formen Makeup, a pioneering company specializing in men’s makeup and grooming products.

“They not only want their purchases fast but demand real-time tracking and flexible return options. E-commerce brands can adjust by integrating advanced tracking technologies and offering multiple return methods, including local drop-off points or even home pickups.”

Gen Z online shopping data reveals that electronics and fashion items top their most frequently purchased list. Zoomers are mindful of overspending and prefer the ease of comparing prices among competitors as the main benefit of shopping online.

Bargain hunting isn’t the only reason Zoomers prefer a digital shopping experience. They desire personalized product recommendations and services, and access to the exclusive discounts found online.

Social Media’s Influence on E-commerce

One of the biggest differentiators between Zoomers and the preceding generations is their use of social media as a vital information hub. Gen Z consumers prefer searching within social media over search engines to find information about brands and their products.

“Engaging with Gen Z directly through social media and personalized communication will also build trust and loyalty, ensuring their needs are consistently met,” said Grella.

How Important is Sustainability to Gen Z in Last-Mile Logistics?

A focus on sustainability is another way Gen Z is impacting fulfillment and last-mile logistics. Zoomers are willing to pay more for products and services from businesses committed to sustainable practices.

“Gen Z is highly environmentally conscious,” said Robert Khachatryan, CEO and founder of Freight Right Global Logistics. “According to a survey by First Insight, 62% of Gen Z prefers to buy from sustainable brands. E-commerce brands should implement eco-friendly packaging and carbon-neutral delivery options to appeal to this demographic.”

Khachatryan recommends adopting green practices, such as using electronic delivery vehicles and sustainable packaging materials. “Highlight these efforts in marketing campaigns to attract environmentally conscious Gen Z consumers.”

Wishine Ali, CEO and founder of Best in Ottawa, agrees. “Adopting eco-friendly practices, such as sustainable packaging and reducing carbon footprints in logistics operations, can appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Brands can also communicate their sustainability efforts transparently, fostering trust and loyalty among their customer base.”

Jake Munday, CEO and co-founder of Custom Neon, said “The choice of Gen Z for quick shipping and environmentally appropriate packaging demonstrates their strong commitment to sustainability. Gen Z may expect improved technology, flexibility, sustainability, and attentive customer service, but all customers deserve it.”

The key to improving sustainable practices without negatively impacting delivery speed is through rapid, small-batch production combined with strategic fulfillment, said Alex Franklin, co-founder and director at A.M. Custom Clothing. “A hybrid approach of ordering in smaller batches and having these ready-to-go fulfillment centers, and then regularly replacing these small batches in an on-demand fashion, is likely the answer for some.”

How Fast Does Gen Z Expect Delivery of Online Orders?

“This generation has grown up with the convenience of online shopping, so they tend to be less patient when waiting for their purchases,” said Sean Clough, principal of Harmony Lab.

To cater to their needs, eCommerce brands must reconsider their approaches to last-mile delivery, said Clough. One effective solution he recommends is to introduce same-day or next-day delivery choices, which have become increasingly popular with this age demographic. “Moreover, providing subscription services or collaborating with stores for in-person pickups can streamline the delivery process.”

Mike Szczesny, owner of EDCO Awards and Specialties, said he’s seen firsthand how failing to adapt to Gen Z’s expectations around delivery and returns can negatively impact a brand’s reputation and bottom line. “This tech-savvy generation has been raised on Amazon Prime and expects nothing less than fast, free shipping and hassle-free returns,” he said.

One of the solutions he frequently recommends to his eCommerce partners is to work with fulfillment centers committed to flexible, on-demand warehousing a shipping. “By leveraging a network of distributed, localized fulfillment centers, brands can get products closer to customers and offer faster delivery speeds – even same-day in some cases.”

Additionally, he suggests working with logistics providers that offer prepaid return labels and instant refunds upon receipt to make the return process painless.

The Power of Pickup Points

Speedy delivery isn’t the only way to appease Zoomers. Businesses that have ample pickup points available tend to gain favor with this generation.

Adam Heurtault, owner of French Forwarders, said pickup points are another way to meet customer service expectations and quick access to products. “Gen Z are crazy about them, and for good reason,” he said. “On average, customers save 30% on their shipping bill and eliminate the need to be at home to receive the packages.”

Last January, his company onboarded a 3PL customer that previously didn’t use pickup points. “They didn’t want the hassle of setting up a new order process, which honestly can be complicated without the right tools for an easy integration,” Heurtault said. “Once we simplified the process for them . . . they saw their revenue grow by 10%.”

How Important is Transparency in Last-Mile Logistics to Gen Z?

Zoomers may prioritize speed and sustainability, but that doesn’t mean it’s their only requirement for doing business with a brand.

“Gen Z isn’t just about speed,” said Connor Butterworth, CEO and owner of Southwestern Rugs Depot. “They’re all about transparency and sustainability. They want real-time tracking and updates on their deliveries, which means robust technology integrations are key.”

David Rubie-Todd, co-founder and marketing director at Sticker It, said Gen Z loves to see updates at every stage of the delivery process. “This generation values transparency and real-time information, making tracking services that provide step-by-step updates a must-have. E-commerce brands should invest in advanced tracking systems that notify customers at each milestone, from order confirmation to the moment the package arrives at their door.”

It’s not enough to give frequent updates, Rubie-Todd said. Businesses must send them via Zoomers’ preferred channels, such as SMS, to ensure they remain engaged and informed.

What Role Does Customer Service Play in Last-Mile Logistics?

Online transactions, when not supported by robust customer service, can fall flat with Zoomers. Gen Z expects a seamless return process.

“For returns, a hassle-free process is non-negotiable,” said Butterworth. “Think easy-to-print labels and designated drop-off points. Partnering with local couriers for faster, greener deliveries can make a significant difference in keeping this generation satisfied.”

John Pennypacker, vice president of sales and marketing at Deep Cognition, said eCommerce stores and fulfillment centers can rely on AI automation to meet the unique and sometimes unprecedented preferences of Gen Z.

“Chatbots and virtual assistants provide prompt support that resonates with Gen Z’s need for urgency and efficiency. In terms of inventory management, systems automated by AI ensure that top favorite items remain in stock to avoid missing sales opportunities.”

Additionally, Pennypacker said AI automation optimizes delivery routes for an even more speedy and reliable distribution, meeting Gen Z’s instant gratification requirements.

Dustin Remy, founder of FantasyJocks, agrees with using AI-powered logistics platforms to provide detailed visibility from the moment the order is placed until it arrives on the customer’s doorstep. “Additionally, offering flexible delivery options like same-day or scheduled arrivals, as well as seamless return processes, can go a long way in catering to Gen Z’s demand for convenience and control.”

Shawn Stack, founder and CEO of Hallmark Timmins, said many brands still struggle with antiquated systems and processes, which hurts their bottom line with Gen Z. “To succeed, eCommerce brands must invest in seamless customer experiences across devices and channels.”

For example, Stack suggests implementing an automated returns management system that allows customers to start the return process with a few taps on their phone and get instant status updates via text. “On the back end, an integrated warehouse management system gives fulfillment centers real-time visibility into inventory and orders so they can optimize how they pick, pack, and ship to meet customer expectations for speed,” he said.

Adam Roach, CEO of Uppercut Tactical, said the solution of rethinking fulfillment from the ground up with the Gen Z shopper in mind is the best approach. “That means offering faster and more flexible delivery options, like same-day and even 2-hour delivery in metro areas. It means providing hassle-free returns through prepaid labels and pickups. And it means communicating with transparency at every step.”

What Does Gen Z Say About All This?

Sarvika Aggarwal is a public relations and communications professional in her 20s. As a member of Gen Z, she reinforces the idea that Zoomers expect robust customer support, streamlined communications with delivery vendors, and investment in technology.

“I have experienced the frustration of delayed deliveries and the lack of communication about such delays,” she said. “For our generation, waiting for a product without any updates can be very frustrating.”

Building a comprehensive customer support team that can efficiently handle order delays, tracking issues, and other concerns is crucial, Aggarwal said. “Many brands fall short in this area, often sending out feedback surveys without addressing core issues.”

Internal miscommunications often result in consumer dissatisfaction. Aggarwal suggested that brands must work on establishing better communication lines with their delivery partners, investing in real-time updates and visual confirmations at each delivery stage.

Lastly, Aggarwal said investing in technology to maintain a strong front-end and back-end infrastructure is key to fostering loyalty among all customers, not just Zoomers. “Brands should consistently update their platforms to reflect the latest information and ensure a seamless online experience,” she said. “However, many brands overlook this, leading to disengagement from their target audience.”

Gen Z is Not For All Brands

Some businesses decide dealing with Gen Z is too difficult and opt to focus their efforts elsewhere. Michael Gidea, co-founder of CMG International Moving, is one of them.

Gidea’s company specializes in relocation services. He and his team studied the eCommerce sector extensively and considered offering last-mile delivery services. However, they decided not to pursue the avenue because of the unique challenges and high expectations associated with Gen Z consumers.

“Gen Z’s expectations for eCommerce delivery are significantly higher than previous generations. Studies show that Gen Z expects same-day or next-day delivery, real-time tracking, and hassle-free returns,” said Gidea. “Many eCommerce brands struggle to meet these demands due to logistical constraints and the higher costs associated with expedited shipping and flexible return policies, especially small brands that do not have the same buying power as bigger brands.”

Companies that manage to pull it off need to adopt several strategies, Gidea said. One of those approaches is partnering with third-party (3PL) logistics providers that offer advanced logistics networks and technology solutions that can handle the complexities of last-mile delivery to ensure faster and more reliable service.

Reshaping Last-Mile Logistics

There’s little doubt that Gen Z is reshaping the way eCommerce brands think about last-mile logistics. Their demand for speed, personalization, and sustainability challenges businesses to innovate and adapt quickly to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Companies that embrace advanced technologies, adopt sustainable practices, and enhance their logistics capabilities can survive and thrive with this generation as loyal customers.

As Zoomers’ influence continues to grow, eCommerce brands that successfully align their strategies with these emerging trends can meet today’s demands while laying a foundation for future success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What Our Customers Say About Us And Our Work

Jo-Ann Hill

I want to say thank you for your help in finding a warehouse so quickly. Your service was amazing. I received replies the same day and have selected a company that will work well for us. I definitely recommend your services.

Vee Zeniuk

I wanted to express my gratitude for your services and let you know that it was a very enjoyable experience! We have selected one of the companies and they are awesome!


You are doing such a great job and this service that you provide is a life saver for people especially startups like me....We cannot spend budgets on researching as much as the big firms can...and you provide us one stop solution which will answer all our questions.

Joyce Sloss

I just wanted to let you know that I selected one of your vendors as our fulfillment house. They can do what we need and we’re looking forward to working with them. They can handle our “special projects” fulfillment, which was key to our decision in bringing them onboard. I appreciate this service. It was great for our company.

Jeffrey Schmidt

I didn’t know there was so much difference in fulfillment companies — this was my first time in need of this sort of service. After a Google search I luckily stumbled upon They saved me an incredible amount of time and money. Within minutes I had a couple of emails from good companies that fit my situation. I am very appreciative of their help.

Eric Kolb

Warehousing and Fulfillment was the perfect matchmaker in finding us a fulfillment partner. They provided several great options, all of whom were very responsive and willing to take the time to talk through our needs. We ended up going with W&F’s top match and we couldn’t be happier. I highly recommend W&F, particularly to anyone whose business relies on a strong fulfillment partner.

Paul Sauer

We were having multiple issues with our 3PL fulfilling warranty replacement parts. Our company needed to make a change and make one fast. I reached out to to facilitate my search for a reputable, service oriented 3PL that can handle the demands of a highly seasonal business to pick, pack and ship parts quickly. I received several qualified 3PL leads that matched what we were looking for. After reviewing and speaking with many one stood out from the rest, and we found a great partner. We could not recommend enough.

Read More

Denis Mills

We found the perfect third-party fulfillment vendor through insightQuote. We never would have found them on our own. We can’t thank you enough and our customers thank you too.

Sarah De Munck

Thanks for all of your help. This was a huge undertaking for us and your guidance was extremely helpful!

Gwynne MacHattie

Thank you so much for your excellent service. We have chosen one to go forward with. This has saved us a great deal of time.

Ash Cook

They really listened to our requirements and then matched us with great vendors that could meet our specific challenges.

Corky Bless

I just wanted to say thank you so much for setting me up with these vendors. I have found pricing better than I ever expected to find.

Brian Chui

Legit, this was such a good experience ... I was shocked how fast the vendors contacted me and got the ball rolling. This was such a pleasant experience

Donald Willick

What an awesome service. A problem I fought with daily for over 3 weeks, solved in less than 24 hours.

warehousing and fulfillment arrow up