Publication Detail

Crowdshipping in Last Mile Deliveries: Operational Challenges and Research Opportunities

UCD-ITS-RP-21-63

Reprint

Sustainable Freight

Suggested Citation:
Pourrahmani, Elham and Miguel Jaller (2021) Crowdshipping in Last Mile Deliveries: Operational Challenges and Research Opportunities. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences

This paper contributes to the emerging body of research on crowdshipping, which is a collaborative strategy that distributes delivery tasks to a mass of actors that act as ordinary couriers, aiming at reducing delivery costs and supporting sustainability. The study focuses on last mile delivery activities, where numerous app-based delivery platforms have recently emerged. The paper provides an overview of the operational characteristics of these platforms based on an in-depth study of a sample of major crowdshipping services (state-of-practice) and a comprehensive review of the state-of-research. After comparing platform services and characteristics, we identified four core (typological) factors that differentiate services: platform (service) type, delivery type, delivery mode, and pricing strategy; and six categories for service challenges and opportunities. Moreover, the review of the state-of-research synthesized their findings with respect to the identified practical challenges to discover opportunities for future work. Overall, the study found that there is a mismatch between practical challenges and scientific solutions. The literature has not addressed all challenges identified in practice, such as couriers’ work conditions and pricing, which are still unresolved issues. The majority of articles were exploratory in nature with their findings based on hypothetical random instances. More research is needed with empirical case studies to evaluate the service net effects on each actor (e.g., senders, receivers, couriers, and platforms) in particular, and on the society in general, in terms of traffic externalities, quality of life, cost and revenue. The paper ends with a discussion of promising areas for future research.

Key words: Crowdshipping, Crowdsource delivery, Crowd logistics, Last mile delivery, Typology