Online shopping and deliveries. What type of urban logistics for parcels? The PUCA project

Science topics June 2013 CityTransport

Eleonora Morganti, Ifsttar former post-doc at AME Department, SPLOTT Laboratory

The september 18, 2017 Update,


As in many European countries, shopping habits in France are changing fast. E-commerce is becoming increasingly common due to the spread of IT systems such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. Currently it accounts for 15% of the French retail market, i.e. €45 billion, with turnover rising at a rate of 19% according to the estimate by Fevad1.


The effects of on-line shopping on urban mobility

In the last decade, increasing use of e-commerce has led to heavy demand for order deliveries to the end user. This has produced increasingly fragmented freight flows in the end leg of distribution, known as the last mile. The number of parcels generated by distance selling (much of which comes from online shopping) has been growing since 2005 and reached 300 million in 2010.

Consequently, e-commerce raises difficulties for both infrastructure planning and distribution systems in urban and suburban areas where traffic congestion and accessibility are crucial factors. In the case of the business to consumer market (B2C2), home deliveries constitute the most problematic option in terms of service costs and organization. Although home deliveries are usually preferred by online shoppers (CREDOC 2010), researchers are noting the development of alternative solutions which satisfy both consumer demand for flexibility and the need on the part of firms to optimize parcel distribution through consolidated shipments. (Augerau et al, 2008).

Pickup points are playing a decisive role in the reorganisation of commercial and logistics activities. They consist of local shops where packages generated by the distance selling market are dropped off to be collected by their individual recipients. In general, they are attended six days a week at times of day that allow consumers to withdraw them when it suits them, with delivery costs that are lower than for home deliveries. A second alternative is automated lockers, or automated parcel boxes, which are accessible 24 hours per day and do not depend on shop opening times.


Economically, socially and environmentally efficient delivery options.

The challenge for parcel delivery companies is to provide on-line logistics services with rapid delivery times and competitive prices that are compatible with consumer expectations and the requirements of web merchants. The regulatory constraints imposed by the public authorities must also be met.

With the aim of optimising delivery options, IFSTTAR (the SPLOTT and DEST laboratories), Université de Bourgogne and the LVMT3 carried out a research project financed by the Ministry of sustainable Development through the Urban Planning Construction Architecture Plan (PUCA).
The team was made up of Christine Belin-Munier, Leslie Belton-Chevallier, Laetitia Dablanc, Frédéric de Coninck, François Fortin, Eleonora Morganti, Benjamin Motte Baumvol.


Contact : Laetitia Dablanc


1 Fevad : Fédération e-commerce et vente à distance (Federation of e-commerce and distance selling)
2 B2C : Business-To-Consumer
3 LVMT : Laboratoire Ville Mobilité Transport (City, Mobility, Transport Laboratory)



Find out more...

Motte-Baumvol, B., Belton-Chevallier, L. Dablanc, L., Morganti, E., Belin-Munier, C. (2017) Spatial dimension of e-shopping in France. Asian Transport Studies, Vol 4(3), p.585-600.

V. Augereau, R. Curien, L.Dablanc, Les relais-livraison dans la logistique du e-commerce, l'émergence de deux modèles. Les Cahiers Scientifiques du Transport N°55/2009 - Pages 63-95.

Morganti, E., Dablanc, L., Fortin, F. (2014a). Final deliveries for online shopping: The deployment of pickup point networks in urban and suburban areas. In Research in Transportation Business & Management 11, 23 -31.


Updated information on e-commerce and deliveries is also available on the Observatory of New Trends Impacting Urban Freight (CITYLAB project, 2014-2018).