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E-GLOBAL: an international perspective on webshop logistics

E-GLOBAL: an international perspective on webshop logistics

Main applicant

Subsidy from: NWO
Time period: 2017-2019
Budget : €963,000 (RUG part: €436,000)

Consortium Partners: University of Groningen, Fontys Hogescholen, Amway, Binnenstadservice, DB Schenker, Dimass, Districon, Fadello, FoodforCare, Gemeente Venlo, Greetz, HC Distributie, IMCC, LIOF, Océ, Phact, Radboudumc, Seacon, Sligro, Tradeport, Centric,

The University of Groningen, Fontys University and 20 private parties have united to carry out a research project which will develop innovative concepts for the logistics of online stores. The research project is funded by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Professor Kees Jan Roodbergen of the University of Groningen is the initiator and project manager. The project is in line with the priorities of the roadmaps of the Top Sector Logistics. Specifically, research will be done into the possibilities to strengthen the Netherlands as a hotspot for distributing e-commerce shipments to other countries. The project was designed on the basis of multiple themes, which are briefly explained below.

Strengthen the Netherlands as e-fulfillment hotspot: The service and pricing of Dutch merchants abroad is often not sufficiently competitive due to large distances and limited opportunities to organize integrated door-to-door parcel delivery Europe-wide. A strategy for shorter lead times, more delivery options or realizing later cut-off times is to organize a DirectLink directly from the Netherlands to specific regions in Europe and then to locally make use of regional distribution networks which offer a wide range of delivery options.

Custom packaging and printing: Online stores often make the strategic choice to buy a limited number of box sizes in large quantities to take advantage of volume discounts offered by packaging suppliers. Products thus are often shipped in oversized boxes which cause unnecessary transportation of air. There are no direct inhibitors for this because the shipping costs in Europe are based on weight. New packaging technologies enable packaging without air. Furthermore, there is a great need to use the shipping box as a marketing tool.

Omni-channel logistics: Often, online stores offer an omni-channel experience for consumers while the underlying logistics processes are strictly separated by channel. Implementation of the omni-channel approach in the logistics processes seems to offer many opportunities to achieve higher service levels and lower costs. The rapid growth and change of assortments, promotions and unpredictable demand provide additional challenges. Product returns increase the complexity.

Warehouse Strategies for e-fulfillment: The properties of e-commerce make it necessary to study many concepts in the domain of warehousing again. The need in the e-commerce for high flexibility, preventing congestion in busy periods, and the integration of return flows are potential challenges. Also the possibility of automation is relatively new to e-commerce because only recently the required scale of operations has been reached. Working on integrating warehousing decisions in the distribution process can provide an efficient and effective supply chain.

Last-mile distribution: The number of vans in neighborhoods and cities continues to increase due to the continuing increase in the number of e-commerce shipments. The last-mile distribution from warehouse to customer becomes a growing concern. The first-mile of the reverse logistics is closely related. From the viewpoint of sustainability and liveability of the city, product flows should be better pooled, for example through horizontal cooperation or through the use of alternative models.

Supply Network Strategies: An increasing share of online sales is through platforms that bring together a wide product range of a large number of suppliers (eg, Amazon). Also, these platforms provide more frequently the possibility for suppliers to carry out the e-fulfillment processes. These platforms are very dynamic with continuously changing suppliers and assortments. Instead of traditional supplier-buyer relationships, it is a dynamic ecosystem, for which no clear guidelines are available for its organization.

Community: One of the objectives is to strengthen existing relations between industry and research institutions in the field of e-fulfillment. The community is composed of, works with and builds upon networks of the participating universities, companies and organizations such as and ShoppingTomorrow.

Last modified:07 December 2016 3.29 p.m.
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