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Customer Benefits in City Logistics: Towards Viable Urban Consolidation Centres
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics & Quality Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6575-715x
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Urban Consolidation Centre (UCC) is a city logistics initiative that has the potential to increase the efficiency of urban freight delivery systems while reducing negative environmental and social effects caused by freight vehicles. One important issue that have hindered longevity of this initiative is its viability, both the financial viability and acceptance from affected stakeholders (also called UCC customers). The UCC customers in focus in this thesis are receivers of goods and municipalities. To satisfy both types of stakeholders, their requests and, in particular, the benefits they can gain from using UCCs need to be studied. The types of benefits to be given priority differ between the stakeholders, where municipalities strive towards more societal benefits, and the main goals of receivers are an increase in efficiency and financial sustainability. In response, the purpose of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of benefits for customers of UCCs, with a particular focus on customer needs and benefits that UCCs can provide.

This thesis consists of five appended papers, each of which uses a different methodology. The methodologies applied in the papers include a multiple interview study of five UCCs, a surveybased interview study of retail stores, and a case study of an operating UCC. Regarding customer needs, this thesis takes the customer perspective, in order to identify needs that UCCs can meet. The results presented in this thesis also highlight the importance for UCCs to give priority to meeting customer needs that stem from some type of problem. Regarding benefits that UCCs can provide, the thesis suggests how different types of benefits can be distinguished. This can give guidance to UCC operators regarding which benefits should be given priority in communication with UCC customers. However, the results highlight that it is also important to understand the situation of the customer to be able to communicate the most relevant benefits that UCCs can provide. Furthermore, the results illustrate different improvement areas that can affect the benefits for UCC customers. These identified areas are: improved understanding by both UCCs and its customers of each other’s operation, communication, developing a more holistic view for UCC customers, and developing new UCC services to match customer needs.

The results provide a foundation for customer needs that UCCs can meet, and the benefits that UCCs can provide. This foundation can be important for UCC customers to gain a better understanding of what a UCC is and how it can affect their operation, something that this thesis contributes towards. It can also assist initiators of UCCs to determine which customer needs they should focus on. Lastly, the results and contribution also address the potential role of municipalities, and it is argued that their role should change from a more supportive role to that of a paying UCC customer. All of these aspects can increase the probability that a UCC, when established becomes viable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2020. , p. 83
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 2042
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-164522DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-164522ISBN: 9789179299163 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-164522DiVA, id: diva2:1415841
Public defence
2020-04-24, ACAS, A-Building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Funder
Swedish Energy AgencyAvailable from: 2020-03-20 Created: 2020-03-20 Last updated: 2020-03-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Urban consolidation centre - a literature review, categorisation, and a future research agenda
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Urban consolidation centre - a literature review, categorisation, and a future research agenda
2018 (English)In: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, ISSN 0960-0035, E-ISSN 1758-664X, Vol. 48, no 8, p. 745-764Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose Urban consolidation centre (UCC) is a popular initiative targeting the challenge of negative environmental and social impacts from freight transports in cities. Despite this, UCC often fails in practice, which indicates a knowledge gap. Furthermore, research within the field can be described as fragmented, transdisciplinary and fast growing. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the field by describing dominant categories and themes within the area, identify gaps in order to propose a future research agenda, and provide insights into the needs of practitioners. Design/methodology/approach A systematic literature review (SLR) targeting journal articles based on UCCs has been constructed with a supplementary snowball approach. A content analysis was performed to categorise themes in the research on UCCs and to identify research gaps, both within and outside the categories identified. Findings Despite substantial research on UCC, very little research ends up in academic journals. In all, 56 articles address UCC. The most common topics were the role of stakeholders, design of distribution structures and transport resources, environmental and social consideration, and economic considerations. Much focus is directed towards finding optimal solutions and designs for potential initiatives with very little, if any, consideration to financial viability or the management of the UCC initiative. Research limitations/implications This research points out existing gaps in the literature and proposes a future research agenda with UCCs as the focus. For example, although environmental and social arguments are often applied to justify the implementation of UCCs, few studies measure or evaluate their impact. Another important research gap is the economical consideration, both how to generate revenue and how to consider economies of scale. Practical implications The practical contribution of most studies is directed towards municipalities. Few findings are presented in a way to support companies. Additionally, by bridging the gaps related to how stakeholders can collaborate and describe what is happening in a UCC, practitioners can use such information as guidelines. Originality/value The results provide a research agenda for the fragmented research targeting UCCs, supporting the viability of future initiatives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD, 2018
Keywords
Content analysis; City logistics; Urban freight; Urban consolidation centre; Structural literature review
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-151808 (URN)10.1108/IJPDLM-01-2017-0050 (DOI)000444391000002 ()
Note

Funding Agencies|Swedish Energy Agency

Available from: 2018-10-04 Created: 2018-10-04 Last updated: 2020-03-20
2. Critical factors for viable business models for urban consolidation centres
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Critical factors for viable business models for urban consolidation centres
2017 (English)In: Research in Transportation Economics, ISSN 0739-8859, E-ISSN 1875-7979, Vol. 64, p. 36-47Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Abstract Although urban consolidation centres (UCC) worldwide have improved urban freight distribution and reduced externalities, other UCC initiatives have not materialised due to problems such as for example, business model limitations. All the same, researchers have rarely described business model components relevant to city logistics. In response, the purpose of this article is to analyse critical factors for viable business models of city logistics initiatives involving UCCs. Following an extensive literature review and multiple-case study of five initiatives with UCCs, we identified seven critical factors of viable city logistics business models: the ability to scale up and down the UCC solution; an ability to continuously develop and adapt to a dynamic environment; the important entrepreneurial role of the initiator as well; the acknowledgment of society; ability to innovate new services; logistics and supply chain management competence; and the ability to take full advantage of advanced IT. All seven factors describe continuously redeveloped business models seeking to seize new and unexpected opportunities, yet also indicate that city logistics systems require local authorities and municipalities to act as initiators, enablers, and customers. The models also underscore differences between purely commercial and purely municipal city logistics initiatives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017
Keywords
Urban logistics, Business models, Critical factors, Urban consolidation centres
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-144226 (URN)10.1016/j.retrec.2017.09.009 (DOI)
Funder
VINNOVA
Available from: 2018-01-11 Created: 2018-01-11 Last updated: 2020-03-20
3. Urban consolidation centres: retail stores demands for UCC services
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Urban consolidation centres: retail stores demands for UCC services
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, ISSN 0960-0035, E-ISSN 1758-664X, Vol. 47, no 7, p. 646-662Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - Urban consolidation centres (UCCs) are often conceived to improve services in retail stores and potentially reduce costs. However, few studies have examined how retail stores perceive the services a UCC could provide. The purpose of this paper is to explore retail stores potential demands for different services that a UCC could provide in order to foster the development and implementation of UCC solutions aimed towards more economically feasible business models. Design/methodology/approach - Structured interviews were conducted with employees at 72 retail stores. Qualitative, as well as quantitative analyses, were conducted to identify the potential demands of the retail stores. Findings - The authors have provided arguments why retail stores might be interested in UCC services, and thereby potentially pay for them. Improved customer service to stores customers might not be a valid argument. The authors point to the cost aspect: stores expend resources that a UCC could provide in a more cost-efficient manner. Research limitations/implications - The findings contradict previous studies to some extent, as it indicates that a UCC may actually not enhance customer service in retail stores. Instead, the findings point to the importance of considering the potential advantages according to economies of scale that are facilitated by UCC services. Practical implications - Taking the perspective of the stores is important in order to identify arguments for why they should pay for the services provided by a UCC. Social implications - Financially viable UCC solutions are needed in order for the initiatives to be maintained and thereby provide a long-term decrease in the environmental and social footprints caused by urban freight. Originality/value - This study answers the call for research addressing retailers perspective in urban logistics, as it takes a demand-driven perspective of the development of UCC services. Furthermore, by highlighting services requested by retail stores, it can guide the financing of UCC initiatives, an aspect that has been lacking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD, 2017
Keywords
Customer service; Business model; Urban freight; City logistics; Receivers; Urban consolidation centre; Urban distribution
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-140529 (URN)10.1108/IJPDLM-02-2017-0114 (DOI)000407286000005 ()
Conference
Annual Nordic Logistics and SCM Researchers Conference (NOFOMA)
Note

Funding Agencies|VINNOVA; Swedens Innovation Agency

Available from: 2017-09-11 Created: 2017-09-11 Last updated: 2020-03-20
4. Designing a business model for redistribution of surplus food
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Designing a business model for redistribution of surplus food
2018 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-148837 (URN)
Conference
NoFoMa 2018, Kolding, Denmark, 13-15 June, 2018
Funder
VINNOVA, 2017-03156
Available from: 2018-06-20 Created: 2018-06-20 Last updated: 2020-03-20Bibliographically approved

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