Optimizing e-commerce: drop-off points
Posted by Louis D'hondt on 18/01/2018
Stating that e-commerce is booming is an understatement. Unfortunately, another booming phenomenon is congestion. Lately, e-commerce is frequently mentioned as having a negative impact on traffic jams. "The shift from traditional shopping to e-commerce demands more vehicles on the road, causing traffic jams." The extent to which this is true is a difficult question. Comparing simulations is not. We all know that e-commerce will keep expanding. Is e-commerce really such a "congesting" phenomenon? If so, which steps can we take to boost e-commerce's evolution towards a lean and route-efficient system? Let's have a look at the impact of drop-off locations.
In this post, we will compare two types of scenarios:
- Traditional shopping scenarios.
The key question is: given a number e-commerce orders, how many traditional shopping trips would we make without e-commerce?
The ratio 'traditional trips/e-commerce orders' will therefore be the key variable throughout the set of traditional shopping scenarios.
- E-commerce scenarios.
The key question here is: where and when does the customer want his order to be delivered? At home, at work or at a drop-off location? We will analyse 4 scenarios, each with different delivery locations and its corresponding timewindows.
For these scenarios we are using representative dummy orders and dummy vehicles from a fictional e-commerce company. For the traditional scenarios the customer drives to the shop, whereas in e-commerce scenarios, it's the shop driving to the customers.
|Traditional scenario||Traditional Dist. (km)||E-com. Dist. (km)||E-commerce scenario|
|Trip/order: 1/1||22 404|
|Trip/order: 1/5||4 436|
|2 580||2/3 Home, 1/3 Work|
|Trip/order: 1/10||2 225|
|1 810||1/3 Home, 2/3 Work|
|Trip/order: 1/20||1 131|
|1 026||1/1 Work|
So what's the conclusion?
- Exactly measuring the impact of e-commerce on congestion today is challenging, as many assumptions must be made. Certainty is wishful thinking.
- Delivery hours (aka timewindows) can be very constraining on the efficiency of e-commerce transport.
- Through a well-structured network and proper regulation, e-commerce can have a lower impact on traffic than traditional shopping. Drop-off locations is one of the options to explore.