Green crowd-shipping: critical factors from a business perspective

Crowd-shipping implies involving nonprofessional operators in transporting goods. While its financial benefits are easy to grasp, its environmental implications depend on the transportation mode used and whether trips are dedicated or non-dedicated.

One approach to making crowd-shipping services more environmentally friendly involves utilizing public transportation, which is less polluting, as the primary mode of transportation, with commuters acting as carriers during their non-dedicated trips. This approach has the dual benefit of reducing both pollution and congestion. While the concept is intriguing and theoretically sound, its practical implementation poses challenges and remains largely understudied.

ALICE’s Roadmap towards zero emissions logistics 2050 suggests crowd-shipping can help in this respect by “recruiting citizens to serve as couriers using their private vehicles to pick up and drop off parcels along routes they are taking anyway” or by using personal transport such as “underground freight trains during non-operating hours or even combining freight and personal transport in a way that does not affect current schedules”.

This study employs a literature review and in-depth interviews to address these challenges. The contribution of this paper lies in confirming existing research focuses, expanding the research agenda by exploring adjacent fields such as passenger and freight urban integration, and identifying critical factors through insights from crowd-shipping operators.

The research focused on:

  • Behavioral factors: These are related to or affected by stakeholders’ willingness to participate in Cs. Some can be influenced by how the company operates and incentivizes users (e.g., detour, vehicle type, and trip type).
  • Contextual factors are not directly under the company’s control but should be considered when starting a new business.
  • Service factors are within the platform’s responsibility (service provider) and represent a strategic choice about the company’s operation.
  • Technical factors are related to business model issues that are both the company’s responsibility and dependent on other service providers’ behavior when choosing whether to cooperate (e.g., MaaS platforms, for example).

Source: De Oliveira Leite Nascimento, C., Gatta, V., & Marcucci, E. (2023). Green Crowdshipping: Critical factors from a business perspective. Research in Transportation Business & Management51, 101062.

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