Review of last mile logistics innovations in an external cost reduction vision

Urban freight is causing problems in urban areas. Cities need solutions to reduce externalities costs such as congestion, pollution and others. A new paper presents a review of the recent scientific literature contributions on innovative strategies for last mile logistics, focusing on externalities cost reduction. 


Most of the delivered goods end up in the city centers. Last mile logistics is the least efficient stage of the supply chain and comprises up to 28% of the total delivery cost. Therefore, the improvement of last mile logistics and a significant externalities reduction are very important challenges for researchers. The BESTUFS project considers the externalities caused by city logistics in three main categories: economic, environmental and social impacts.

New technologies and transport means, innovative techniques and organizational strategies allow handling in a more effective way the last mile delivery in urban areas. The problem of the last mile delivery is dealt with innovative modes thanks to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Information Transport Systems (ITS), Industry 4.0 and new transport vehicles.

Literature review

Based on a literature review, recent papers that significantly contributed, with original proposals, to the reduction of externalities in urban logistics are identified and analyzed. Furthermore, a classification of the papers dealing with the externality reduction problem is presented. It is consistent with a general formulation proposed to evaluate external costs in urban area.

The innovative contributions are classified into five main categories:

  1. innovative vehicles
  2. proximity stations or points (like pick-up-points)
  3. collaborative and cooperative urban logistics (like UCCs)
  4. optimization of transport management and routing
  5. innovations in public policies and infrastructures.

The new paradigm of smart logistics is based on the combination of these concepts and on the proposed innovations.

Smart cities

A smart city should use innovative approaches to the last mile delivery problem. The increase of express shipments, caused also by the growing sales of the online market, new ICT and the Industry 4.0 paradigm that allow retrieving a huge amount of data generated from infrastructures, devices and vehicles are factors to be managed in a city that have to be rethought in terms of the mobility of goods.

One of the main objectives of a smart city is to considerably decrease the externalities generated by the last mile delivery activities. The commitment of all stakeholders and the application of the proposed solutions are essential to achieve sustainable logistics in urban areas.


Ranieri, L., Digiesi, S., Silvestri, B., & Roccotelli, M. (2018). A Review of Last Mile Logistics Innovations in an Externalities Cost Reduction Vision. Sustainability, 10(3), 782.

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