E-shopping and Changed Transport Behavior

E-shopping and Changed Transport Behavior


L Winslott Hiselius, Lund University; L Smidfelt Rosqvist, A Clark, Trivector, SE


This paper presents research on transport behavior changes due to e-shopping and its potential effects on city logistics. The paper ends with a discussion on possible sustainability gains though policies, measures etc.


The market share of E-commerce shows a steady increase in growth, partly affecting the traditional way of commerce i.e. how businesses are organising their freight transport including restructuring of the freight logistics, organization and delocalization. There is also a transfer of personal shopping trips to goods delivery services which in the long term has the potential to give extensive effects on sustainability, land use, travel mode choice, etc. Even though e-commerce could most dramatically change trade opportunities in rural areas, e-commerce has shown to be more frequent in urban areas giving prospects on further drivers of change in cities which also have the greatest challenges for logistics.

Regardless of policy or regulations, the market for e-commerce continues to grow. Although the business-to-business segment dominates e-commerce in terms of the dollar value of transactions made, business-to-consumer segment remains important for its potential impacts on urban travel, land use patterns, city logistics and thus effects on long-term sustainability. Trips for shopping represent approximately 13% of the total energy use for personal transports in Sweden. In conventional trade, transport from store to home stands for roughly the same energy and environmental impact as the rest of the transport chain. Reorganising transport towards more delivery transports has thus great efficiency potential.

The overall net effect will however depend on how e-commerce relate to traditional shopping, the way the goods is delivered and not the least the way remaining physical personal shopping trips are altered. If consumers use the freed time and resources to travel for other or complementary purposes there might be no gain at all. If they, on the other hand, behaviour change towards more sustainable modes, e.g. because the car is no longer needed as a means of transporting goods, some synergy effects might be realized on other sustainability aspects.

This paper presents research on possible effects due to e-shopping. We focus on behavioral changes connected to travel pattern based on a web-survey carried out to e-shoppers in various types of trade. Based on our research on the magnitude of expected changes, the article results in a discussion on how the potential for sustainability gains could be realized though policies, measures etc. This approach could help simulate potential impacts resulting from changes of indicators, so that positive effects can be promoted and negative ones alleviated proactively, rather than passively accepting outcomes.


Association for European Transport