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Urban consolidation centres: retail stores’ demands for UCC services

Henrik Johansson (Department of Management and Engineering, Division of Logistics and Quality Management, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)
Maria Björklund (Department of Management and Engineering, Division of Logistics and Quality Management, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

ISSN: 0960-0035

Article publication date: 7 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Urban consolidation centres (UCCs) are often conceived to improve services in retail stores and potentially reduce costs. However, few studies have examined how retail stores perceive the services a UCC could provide. The purpose of this paper is to explore retail stores’ potential demands for different services that a UCC could provide in order to foster the development and implementation of UCC solutions aimed towards more economically feasible business models.

Design/methodology/approach

Structured interviews were conducted with employees at 72 retail stores. Qualitative, as well as quantitative analyses, were conducted to identify the potential demands of the retail stores.

Findings

The authors have provided arguments why retail stores might be interested in UCC services, and thereby potentially pay for them. Improved customer service to stores’ customers might not be a valid argument. The authors point to the cost aspect: stores expend resources that a UCC could provide in a more cost-efficient manner.

Research limitations/implications

The findings contradict previous studies to some extent, as it indicates that a UCC may actually not enhance customer service in retail stores. Instead, the findings point to the importance of considering the potential advantages according to economies of scale that are facilitated by UCC services.

Practical implications

Taking the perspective of the stores is important in order to identify arguments for why they should pay for the services provided by a UCC.

Social implications

Financially viable UCC solutions are needed in order for the initiatives to be maintained and thereby provide a long-term decrease in the environmental and social footprints caused by urban freight.

Originality/value

This study answers the call for research addressing retailers’ perspective in urban logistics, as it takes a demand-driven perspective of the development of UCC services. Furthermore, by highlighting services requested by retail stores, it can guide the financing of UCC initiatives, an aspect that has been lacking.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank VINNOVA, Sweden’s Innovation Agency, for financing the project “Business Models for City Logistics”, in which this paper is a part. The authors would also like to thank Master’s Student Jacob Bergvall for his support during the empirical data collection.

Citation

Johansson, H. and Björklund, M. (2017), "Urban consolidation centres: retail stores’ demands for UCC services", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 47 No. 7, pp. 646-662. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-02-2017-0114

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited