NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research
Edited by Cathy Macharis and Sandra Melo
Chapter 3: Characteristics and Typology of Last-mile Logistics from an Innovation Perspective in an Urban Context
3. Characteristics and typology of lastmile logistics from an innovation perspective in an urban context Roel Gevaers, Eddy Van de Voorde and Thierry Vanelslander INTRODUCTION In the past decade, the e-commerce market for products ranging from high-value durable goods to low-value consumer goods has experienced strong growth as well as sweeping change. The expansion of the market has coincided with an upsurge in direct-to-consumer deliveries. While this type of service is not new (as evidenced by the mail-order firms of the 1980s and 1990s), the e-commerce boom has certainly stimulated its further development. Concurrently, this evolution has drawn attention to certain issues in the final part of the supply chain. These are referred to collectively as the last-mile problem. The last mile is currently regarded as one of the more expensive, least efficient and most polluting sections of the entire logistics chain. This is due to a number of inherent factors. In home deliveries, for example, there is the security aspect and the associated not-at-home problem to consider, especially as the recipient may have to sign a reception confirmation. This results in high delivery failure and empty trip1 rates, which substantially affect cost, efficiency and environmental performance (cf. emissions). Another potential problem is lack of critical mass in certain areas or regions, which will likewise affect cost. The fact that a substantial proportion of home deliveries are performed by van is also regarded as a drawback, as this translates into higher emissions per parcel as compared to delivery by truck....
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