Research Projects

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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2020 TOPIC AREA: E-commerce and urban freight Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: NCST

Travel Behavior in E-commerce: shopping, purchasing and receiving

Project Summary

Project number: NCST-20-01
Funding source: Caltrans
Contract number: 65A0686
Funding amount: $100,000
Performance period: 08/16/20 to 12/31/21

Research Products

Project description

E-commerce is defined as any type of consumption that takes place via an online platform. The most common type of e-commerce is online shopping. The emergence of online shopping has transformed where and how goods are produced, distributed, and sold, and how consumers make purchases as well as shopping travel decisions. The rise in e-commerce has been rapid. In the US, the market share of online shopping has increased from about 3.7% in 2008 to 9.5% in 2018, and the volume of online shopping is increasing at a rate of 11% per year. The impact of e-shopping on freight distribution is clear: as large deliveries to retail establishments are replaced with dispersed deliveries to households, freight deliveries become less efficient. The impact on consumer travel is less clear; if e-shopping eliminates in-store trips, there are savings in consumer travel. However, there may not be a one to one substitution of shopping trips, and the time saved from shopping travel may be used to travel for other purposes. To the extent that freight or passenger travel increases, e-shopping has social and environmental impacts on cities, such as congestion, pedestrian safety, air pollution. It is therefore important to better understand e-shopping behavior and address the inefficiencies of e-shopping deliveries.

More research is necessary to better understand e-shopping behavior and address the inefficiencies of e-shopping deliveries. This project will examine e-shopping behavior, with the main focus on deliveries. We will conduct surveys to elicit detailed information on e-shopping behavior. By collecting first-hand data on how people manage the receipt of goods purchased online we will develop a better understanding of the overall travel and environmental impacts of e-shopping. Furthermore, various innovative strategies have been introduced to reduce the negative impacts of home delivery, such as pick-up points or automated locker facilities. This project will also investigate the uptake and effectiveness of those strategies. Choice models will be utilized to estimate how demographics, product characteristics and shipping constraints affect the decision to e-shop, as well as the choice of delivery speed and location.


Genevieve Giuliano
Professor; Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government; Senior Associate Dean for Research and Technology; Director, METRANS , Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 216Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]