City logistics in an omnichannel environment. The case of Brussels

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Consumers live in an omnichannel environment, in which they use both online and offline channels for their shopping activities. The result is an increase in parcels shipped to consumers’ homes, challenging urban freight systems in terms of efficiency and sustainability. Many measures exist, that aim to optimise and improve activities of logistics service providers in urban areas. However, research on the parcel market and its actors is limited, so it is unclear how parcel distribution is organised and which city logistics measures are (not) adopted.
This information is needed to re-think parcel distribution and support policy-making that sustains and improves urban sustainability and quality of life. Therefore, we carried out case-study research with focus on Brussels,
Belgium’s largest city and capital. Findings demonstrate that logistics service providers are focused on measures that improve distribution efficiency, which is determined by parcel volume, stop density, delivery failure and urban regulation. To this end, pick-up points and lockers and tools to affect receiver behaviour are implemented most. Generally, Brussels’ parcel distribution market is dominated by conventional vehicles and traditional modes of operation, but regulations and policies are advancing the use of micro-hubs in combination with cargobikes.
Local authorities can facilitate adoption of city logistics measures for parcel distribution by cooperating and exchanging information with the private sector and by developing a harmonised, long-term vision on freight transport policy across cities and regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-317
Number of pages8
JournalCase Studies on Transport Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2019


  • City logistics
  • Omnichannel retail
  • Sustainability


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