Urban logistics is becoming increasingly complex and costly. There are several reasons for this, such as the growth of e-commerce, enhanced customer expectations, the desire to increase delivery performance at lower costs, and improvement in city/urban sustainability and livability.
In order to respond to the challenges of urban last-mile distribution, companies have to develop new distribution models that perform well along multiple dimensions, such as cost-effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and sustainability. In this context, e-retailers, in particular, and other companies involved in last-mile distribution, such as parcel delivery companies, are developing a variety of strategies.
Current approaches differ according to numerous aspects, including the type and location of logistics facilities, the type and size of delivery vehicles employed, and the presence of alternative delivery and product exchange/transhipment points. The specific type of last-mile distribution strategies must account for a number of elements in the local context such as local demand characteristics and customer preferences, regulations in place, or the operational characteristics of the environment in which they operate.
In this context, a paper by Comi and Savshenko focuses on last-mile logistics and presents a methodology for supporting the choice of the most sustainable mode to complete deliveries within urban areas. The emphasis is on small-sized freight (parcels), which can also be delivered on foot or by bicycle.
The proposed methodology points out both internal and external direct costs. Assessment of external and internal costs by the proposed methodology will allow a comprehensive and responsible approach to planning and organizing urban transportation of small freight loads, which is the object of application of last-mile logistics. The results of its implementation to a real test case are presented and the potential benefits deriving from the use of such sustainable modes are discussed.