Research from Cambridge University reviewed LML-related literature in the areas of operations management and supply chain within a time span of 15 years since 2000 to 2014 to gather previously researched LML structures and the design variables. An initial survey into the literature on last-mile logistics (LML) structures revealed that, despite the significant LML innovations and experimentations, the extant knowledge on LML structures and the associated design variables has been limited.
Classification of LML structures and design guidelines
A total of 67 articles and 13 conference papers were reviewed based on the adopted research protocol. The literature on LML structures was classified into push-centric, pull-centric and hybrid system based on the level of vendor and customer effort, while the design variables were classified as merchant-oriented, merchandise-oriented, and customer-oriented:
- Merchant-oriented: order visibility, reliability, response time and returnability.
- Merchanise-oriented: variety, margin and freshness.
- Customer oriented: availability of time, customer experience, demand volume and market-density.
Further, an application matrix linking the variables and the structures was described and a design guideline proposed. Finally, this paper sheds light on future research opportunities in LML structures. An extension of this review can include return channel as well as consolidation schemes relevant in the LML context.