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The “next day, free delivery” myth unravelled: Possibilities for sustainable last mile transport in an omnichannel environment

Heleen Buldeo Rai ( Vrije Universiteit Brussel , Brussels, Belgium)
Sara Verlinde ( Vrije Universiteit Brussel , Brussels, Belgium)
Cathy Macharis ( Vrije Universiteit Brussel , Brussels, Belgium)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 6 December 2018

Issue publication date: 21 March 2019

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3531

Abstract

Purpose

Currently, it is unclear how omnichannel retailers can create a last mile offer that is both attractive and sustainable from an economic and environmental point of view. The purpose of this paper is to explore to which extent consumers are willing to adopt last mile options that are more sustainable and how these options should be composed to remain attractive.

Design/methodology/approach

To this end, the authors surveyed a representative sample of Belgian consumers, using choice-based conjoint experiments, and analysed their preferences structures.

Findings

Consumers’ preference goes out to free, next day delivery to an address of choice, on regular office hours during the week. However, when free delivery and return are offered, consumers are willing to collect their orders themselves or wait longer for their orders to arrive.

Practical implications

The research findings are important for retailers that (plan to) operate an omnichannel model. For omnichannel retailers with a dense store network, the results indicate that consumers accept their store network as pick-up and return locations, allowing retailers to create a more efficient and sustainable supply chain in which their online and offline activities can be combined.

Originality/value

The research findings contribute to current literature and practice by combining “planet” and “profit” components of sustainability in last mile transport and applying it in the novel omnichannel environment.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the Innoviris Anticipate programme: prospective research for Brussels-Capital Region, and the retail group. The authors would like to thank the retail group for the opportunity to carry out this research and Philippe Lebeau for his much appreciated help and suggestions.

Citation

Buldeo Rai, H., Verlinde, S. and Macharis, C. (2019), "The “next day, free delivery” myth unravelled: Possibilities for sustainable last mile transport in an omnichannel environment", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 47 No. 1, pp. 39-54. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRDM-06-2018-0104

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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