Environmental assessments of e-commerce often focus on the last mile. Collection points are considered more beneficial than home delivery but this largely depends on how consumers’ collection trips are organized. Because this information is lacking, our objective is to find out how consumers make use of and travel to collection points by means of a street intercept surveys in the Brussels-Capital Region.
Findings from research by Vrije Universiteit Brussel and MOBI in Brussels shows that around three-quarters (72.2%) of consumers use collection points following an unsuccessful delivery attempt at their homes, indicating considerable inefficiencies in the last mile. Almost half (47%) of consumers use cars to pick-up their purchase, while the remaining half takes public transport (22.3%), walk (21.6%) or cycle (9.1%).
Most consumers in Brussels visit a collection point within the postal code zone in which they live, travel less than fifteen minutes, and chain other activities to parcel collection (primarily grocery shopping). Consumers that prefer collection points over other delivery locations are generally younger, single students that have no children. They are also more frequent online shoppers, in which their e-purchases replace purchases in physical stores.
The Brussels analysis contributes to last-mile practice by identifying consumer profiles that could be targeted to encourage collection point selection on the webshop check out page. With respect to existing studies on the topic, the results contradict assumptions of consumers primarily walking to collection points or combining collection with work-related trips, but confirm the importance of product type on collection point preference. Future research on retail supply chain sustainability should build on our approach for a more accurate representation of the consumers’ part of the last mile.