The rapid emergence of direct-to-home delivery models has quickly changed the spatial and temporal distribution of both individual travelers’ trips and of urban goods movements. A growing number of household and consumer products now being delivered directly to homes rather than being picked up in retail stores. For commercial carriers, the last-mile is often expensive, as small shipments must be moved to geographically dispersed residences, often within increasingly constrained time windows. An emerging method of goods movement that may help to address this inefficiency is crowd shipping.
Crowd shipping is a peer-to-peer delivery platform consisting of carriers and requesters. As a result of these tradeoffs, neither the potential market for crowd shipping nor the possible impacts of crowd shipping on the upstream and downstream daily travel behavior of the requester or the carrier are well understood. Increased adoption of crowd shipping will have implications for both commercial freight demand and passenger travel demand; while understanding both will be critical to assessing the potential benefits of crowd shipping, a UTRC study aims primarily to provide insights specifically on the impacts of crowd shipping on personal travel behavior.
While a number of travel behavior researchers have studied the general relationship between e-commerce and trips to the retail store, none have comprehensively assessed crowd shipping, the impacts of crowd shipping on trip chaining behavior of individual participants, or the potential replacement activities that may occur when additional time is made available for the requester through the elimination of store trips.
Thirty-seven respondents (32% of total) indicated a willingness to consider serving as a carrier for a crowd shipping platform. The demographics of these carriers were investigated. Willingness to serve as carrier appears to decrease with increasing income. Among the lowest income category, more than half of respondents are willing to serve as carriers; among the wealthiest group, this number falls to less than 15 percent. The least willing age group to serve as carriers was 25-34, and the most willing was 35-44.
The employment status of willing carriers was also examined. Unsurprisingly, 71% of those with full-time employment were unwilling to participate in crowd shipping as a carrier. Slightly more full-time students are willing; about 36 percent indicated an interest in serving as a carrier. Sample sizes for part-time employees/students, retired persons, and unemployed individuals were very small; however, three out of four with no employment were interested to serve as carriers.
Willing carriers identified the expected modes by which they would provide service. Seventy-three percent of carriers expect to use a car; of these, about half expect to use the car alone and about half to use the car as well as other modes. About 27 percent of respondents expect to use public transit alone or in combination with other modes, and 11 percent expect only to use human-powered modes of biking and walking.
For large deliveries, higher wages are expected for human-powered modes; for small deliveries, the higher wages are expected for car operators. Comparing with the rates of willing requestors, the rates seem reasonable; to earn the expected hourly wages stated, carriers would need to make 2.2 to 3.4 small deliveries per hour or 1.7 to 2.2 large deliveries per hour. The fee for crowd shipping should be between 5 and 10 US$.