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Last‐mile supply chain efficiency: an analysis of learning curves in online ordering

Thomas J. Kull (Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Ken Boyer (Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Roger Calantone (Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 27 March 2007

7171

Abstract

Purpose

As companies extend supply chains via direct delivery to consumers, supply chain efficiency depends upon the usability of the online ordering system. The purpose of this paper is to focus on customer order cycle efficiency gains through the “learnability” of web sites.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper analyzes empirical data using nonlinear regression from seven firms and over 4,000 customers to examine how order time – an important performance metric – changes within an online grocery ordering environment.

Findings

The evidence supports various forms of power‐law learning for web‐based ordering (i.e. the first few orders involve substantial learning). However, significant differences exist between web sites, and a portion of the ordering time may be irreducible.

Research limitations/implications

The research lends insight into how web sites influence last‐mile supply chain efficiency via differing learning rates in the order cycle. Perceptual measures were used in order to assess customer beliefs.

Practical implications

Online order entry serves as the starting point for many supply chain actions. Managers can use this research to benchmark their web site performance and subsequently take action to improve the efficiency and service of their supply chain.

Originality/value

The empirically validated model allows researchers and web‐based businesses to utilize the provided learning rate measure as an ease of use performance metric.

Keywords

Citation

Kull, T.J., Boyer, K. and Calantone, R. (2007), "Last‐mile supply chain efficiency: an analysis of learning curves in online ordering", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 409-434. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443570710736985

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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