Last Mile, Reverse Logistics, and the New World Order in E-Commerce Delivery

Supply Chain Innovation for Today’s World of Delivery Demands

“Last Mile, Reverse Logistics, and the New World Order in E-Commerce Delivery”

A White Paper by the University of Tennessee Global Supply Chain Institute 


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More Information on this White Paper

Authors:Alan Amling, PhD; Thomas J. Goldsby, PhD
Date: May, 2023

What's Inside

“The Big Shift (in e-commerce delivery) has been driven by fulfillment closer to the customer, whether from stores or an increasing number of urban and suburban fulfillment centers. If that Go Vols sweatshirt began its journey from one of the five Target or eight Walmart Supercenter locations in the Knoxville area, the consumer would likely have it on their doorstep in one day or less.”

It’s no secret that COVID-19 changed the supply chain management profession in many ways. One of the biggest shifts came in the form of last mile logistics. When stores closed down and goods were in demand, companies innovated, breaking decades-old structures to deliver for consumers. Supply chain innovation and novel solutions to logistics challenges resulted in faster-than-ever delivery times as well as new pick-up and curbside models. 

Disruption met innovation for major retailers, including Amazon, Costco, Walmart, Target, and American Eagle. Eventually The Big Shift in e-commerce delivery drove fulfillment centers to be closer to the customer. Whether from local stores or a growing number of urban and suburban fulfillment centers, customers are now accustomed to orders arriving to their doorstep in one day or even less thanks to localized, behind-the-scenes efforts. Once the bar is raised, customer expectations seldom go in reverse. 

However, this evolution in e-commerce, local fulfillment and last mile logistics does not replace traditional fulfillment models. Knowing when and how to pull which levers is key to success for supply chain managers. Is your organization equipped and educated for such dynamic logistics pipeline solutions and strategies? 

Research by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Advanced Supply Chain Collaborative, conducted with partner companies during the height of the pandemic, provides an updated look at last mile and reverse logistics.

Download this white paper to learn: 

  • Established and emerging fulfillment and delivery models
  • New methods to move the growing number of returned purchases back into your logistics pipeline 
  • Best practices and figures for fulfillment, delivery, and returns 
  • Insights into non-economic considerations and the “dark corners” of e-commerce 
  • Insights into last mile logistics and innovations by big-name retailers 

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Advanced Supply Chain Collaborative works like a think tank, with industry experts and UT faculty engaging, exploring, collaborating, and reporting on advanced concepts in supply chain management and supply chain innovation. An initiative of the Global Supply Chain Institute, researchers include faculty members from Department of Supply Chain Management and other areas of the Haslam College of Business, while partner companies have included Amazon, Bush Brothers & Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Kenco Logistics, Pfizer, Shaw Industries, Schneider Electric, Sysco, Takeda, and WestRock. 

This White Paper is Primarily For: Global Supply Chain Managers, Corporate CEOs, Logistics Professionals, Chief Supply Chain Officers, Supply Chain Leaders, and Supply Chain Students.

Please fill the form below to download the white paper.

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