Food Logistics

E-Grocery Logistics

Buying food products online is booming. You can order your shopping directly to your home or collect it from a wide range of different locations such as stores, warehouses or even major public transport hubs. For successful operations, optimized logistics processes are crucial, especially when dealing with fresh produce.

To enable cost-effectiveness in e-grocery operations, efficient order picking and delivery processes were found to be the most crucial factors (Kämäräinen and Punakivi, 2002). Increased and growing customer demand regarding delivery times and service quality over the past decade further amplifies this finding.

E-grocery logistics operations, however, are highly challenging. In addition to complications of traditional e-commerce deliveries such as narrow delivery time windows, unsuccessful delivery attempts and return shipments, product quality further has to be considered when shipping food products. This requires well-designed logistics processes and tailored solution procedures to route and schedule shipments efficiently.

Nevertheless, e-groceries offer a wide range of potential benefits. Efficient food logistics operations may reduce emissions by selecting optimal consolidation points and delivery routes. Additionally, food waste can be reduced through better inventory management and as food products do not need to be displayed prior to purchase. Therefore, further research focusing on these issues is of high interest and need.

–          Kämäräinen, V., Punakivi, M., 2002. Developing Cost-effective Operations for the e-Grocery Supply Chain. Int. J. Logist. Res. Appl. 5, 285–298. doi:10.1080/1367556021000026727

Image: BOKU

Christian Fikar is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Production Management at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). His research fields include logistics, supply chain management and related decision support systems to investigate and optimize delivery processes, particularly for humanitarian and food logistics operations.

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