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The Rise of On-Demand 'Instant Deliveries' in European Cities


  • Laetitia Dablanc

    (IFSTTAR/AME/SPLOTT - Systèmes Productifs, Logistique, Organisation des Transports et Travail - IFSTTAR - Institut Français des Sciences et Technologies des Transports, de l'Aménagement et des Réseaux - Communauté Université Paris-Est)

  • Eléonora Morganti

    (University of Leeds)

  • Niklas Arvidsson

    (RISE Viktoria Swedish ICT [Göteborg])

  • Johan Woxenius

    (GU - Göteborgs Universitet = University of Gothenburg)

  • Michael Browne

    (GU - Göteborgs Universitet = University of Gothenburg)

  • Neila Saidi

    (École d'architecture de la ville et des territoires de Marne-la-Vallée)


This exploratory paper contributes to a new body of research that investigates the potential of digital market places to disrupt transport and mobility services. We are specifically looking at the urban freight sector, where numerous app-based services have emerged in recent years. The paper specifically looks at 'instant deliveries,' i.e. services providing on-demand delivery within two hours - by either private individuals, independent contractors, or employees - by connecting consignors, couriers and consignees via a digital platform. The paper provides an overview of the main issues concerning instant deliveries, supported by data (including a survey of 96 courier delivery providers) and examples. After presenting a typology of companies (digital platforms) involved in 'instant deliveries,' we question in what way they transform the urban freight current patterns. We highlight four issues, discussing their potential to impact urban freight services and related policies in European cities: 1) Freight trips and data; 2) Business models; 3) Labor legislation and work conditions; and 4) Local public policies. We conclude by saying that predicting the medium-term consequences of these changes is difficult, but it is essential that city planning and policies take account of these developments and consider how planning and possibly regulation needs to be adapted to these new ways of doing things.

Suggested Citation

  • Laetitia Dablanc & Eléonora Morganti & Niklas Arvidsson & Johan Woxenius & Michael Browne & Neila Saidi, 2017. "The Rise of On-Demand 'Instant Deliveries' in European Cities," Post-Print hal-01589316, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01589316
    DOI: 10.1080/16258312.2017.1375375
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laetitia Dablanc & Zeting Liu & Martin Koning & Jens Klauenberg & Leise Kelli de Oliveira & Corinne Blanquart & François Combes & Nicolas Coulombel & Mathieu Gardrat & Adeline Heitz & Saskia Seidel, 2017. "Observatory of Strategic Developments Impacting Urban Logistics (2017 version)," Working Papers hal-01627824, HAL.
    2. Frey, Carl Benedikt & Osborne, Michael A., 2017. "The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 254-280.
    3. Itf, 2016. "Shared Mobility: Innovation for Liveable Cities," International Transport Forum Policy Papers 21, OECD Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raimbault, Nicolas, 2019. "From regional planning to port regionalization and urban logistics. The inland port and the governance of logistics development in the Paris region," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 205-213.
    2. Tavasszy, Lóránt A., 2020. "Predicting the effects of logistics innovations on freight systems: Directions for research," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-6.
    3. Antonio Martinez-Sykora & Fraser McLeod & Carlos Lamas-Fernandez & Tolga Bektaş & Tom Cherrett & Julian Allen, 2020. "Optimised solutions to the last-mile delivery problem in London using a combination of walking and driving," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 295(2), pages 645-693, December.
    4. Buldeo Rai, Heleen & Verlinde, Sara & Macharis, Cathy, 2021. "Unlocking the failed delivery problem? Opportunities and challenges for smart locks from a consumer perspective," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    5. Alena Brettmo & Jon Williamsson, 2020. "The Role of ‘Influencers’ as Drivers of a More Sustainable Urban Freight Sector," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(7), pages 1-17, April.
    6. Janjevic, Milena & Winkenbach, Matthias, 2020. "Characterizing urban last-mile distribution strategies in mature and emerging e-commerce markets," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 164-196.

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