Discussion Papers

No. 446: City-Logistics for the parcels market (August 2019)

Authors: Petra Junk, Julia Wielgosch

(full version only available in German)


Parcel services face major challenges in downtown areas: The delivery of parcels to private and business customers is negatively affected by traffic congestion, parking problems, pedestrian zones and, to a certain extent, by access restrictions for delivery traffic. In addition, the designation of low-emission zones and driving bans for diesel vehicles are challenging parcel services.

Many parcel operators in Germany increasingly rely on cargo bikes or vehicles with alternative propulsion technologies in city centres. They regularly cooperate with cities and municipalities to create the operating conditions for innovative city logistics concepts. Some cities in Germany have already developed pilot projects for smart and sustainable city logistics. But cities and communities are still far from having a large-scale use of smart logistics solutions.

Against this background, the study provides an inventory of innovative city logistics concepts of parcel operators in Germany. City logistics for the parcel market includes a variety of concepts for a more efficient organisation of the supply of shops and the delivery of parcels to private customers in downtown areas. These innovative concepts aim at relieving urban infrastructure and increasing the efficiency of parcel deliveries in city centres. Different initiatives combine cargo bike delivery, centrally located sorting facilities (micro-hubs), cooperation of different delivery operators, multi-label shops and automated pick-up stations. This study compares city logistics concepts applied in Germany that involve parcel operators.

First of all, the study identifies different stakeholder groups and their specific demands regarding city logistics. It provides an inventory of innovative city logistics concepts that involve parcel operators in Germany. Finally, key success factors and obstacles as well as best practices are identified and recommendations are given for promoting city logistics initiatives.

The study concludes that, as a first step, existing barriers should be removed by involving parcel service providers more explicitly in the procedures for urban planning and traffic management. At the same time, success factors should be promoted by creating city logistics commissioners in cities and municipalities, and installing round tables for stakeholders. In addition, incentives can be provided by allowing delivery by cargo bikes in city centers all day (despite prohibition of motorized deliveries) and by awarding funds or prizes for city logistics projects.

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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