Edited by Robin Hickman, Moshe Givoni, David Bonilla and David Banister
Chapter 34: E-retailing, the network society and travel
A major trend drawing much attention is the employment of new technologies in retailing (i.e., e-commerce, e-retail, e-shopping, etc.). E-retail represents a small, but growing part of retail activities, which may have broad implications on the organization and spatial structure of retail systems, shopping patterns and city development. Such impacts depend to a great extent on consumers’ response to technological changes. An increasing use of e-commerce is hypothesized to affect mobility. As such, transport and retail geographers as well as policymakers and planners have become interested in the implications of e-commerce on travel. E-retailing involves a shift from various aspects of the traditional store format towards the introduction of electronic means of performing retail activities. E-retail encompasses three main activities: specifically, a product search activity, an online purchase function and product delivery capability. Early studies forecast that information technology would generate a revolution in the retail sector and would largely affect travel behavior (Graham and Marvin, 1996; Burt and Sparks, 2002; Wrigley et al., 2002). This is commonly attributed to the relaxation of time-space constraints in retailing and is credited to the potential of electronic applications to reduce costs of transactions, transportation and search activities. Indeed, sales in the virtual environment have grown exponentially, although the proportion of virtual shopping is still significantly smaller than that of traditional shopping. This may already hint that understanding the impact of e-commerce on travel is complex.
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