What's New in City Design

The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem

Growing demand for e-commerce delivery will result in 36% more delivery vehicles in inner cities by 2030, leading to a rise in both emissions and traffic congestion without effective intervention. Without effective intervention, urban last-mile delivery emissions and traffic congestion are on track to increase by over 30% in the top 100 cities globally. The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem analyses 24 interventions that can reduce emissions, congestion and delivery costs for the urban last-mile. With the ecosystem-wide change, interventions could reduce emissions and traffic congestion by 30%, and delivery cost by 25%, compared to the “do-nothing” scenario.

Benefits & Problems Addressed

Getting in front of fast-paced changes in e-commerce: Shopper habits are changing quickly, shifting important systems related to transportation logistics, land use and revenues. 

Addressing emerging problem areas: Cities are struggling with traffic congestion and air pollution due to the increasing number of delivery vehicles, their emissions and parking in travel lanes.

A managed approach: WEF's guide presents different scenarios for addressing e-commerce-related traffic and congestion.

Tips & Techniques

Context & Situation:  From 2014 to 2019, e-commerce sales ratios nearly tripled globally. This trend has been fueled by a multitude of different factors: urbanization and the increasing purchasing power of the middle class, an increasing customer base worldwide, a widening range of products that can be purchased online and the emergence of new digital business models, as well as technological advancements in the delivery segments that allow for instant and time-definite delivery. 

Base case:  Without any intervention, the number of delivery vehicles in the top 100 cities globally will increase by 36% until 2030. Consequently, emissions from delivery traffic will increase by 32% and congestion will rise by over 21%, equaling an additional 11 minutes of commute time for each passenger every day. The challenge for the urban last mile is especially pronounced for the freight segment, as double-parked vehicles results in congestion and emissions. Currently, cities are addressing the issue through uncoordinated pilots.  To work, there needs to be systemic change and harmonized regulatory frameworks . 

Last-mile interventions: This report assesses 24 supply chain and technology interventions in terms of increased traffic volume, CO2 emissions, congestion, delivery cost, investment need and qualitative dimensions such as customer convenience and level of competitive disruption. Also, we want to start a discussion on how these interventions could best be combined, taking into consideration potential cannibalization or synergy effects. 

Transition scenarios: The report presents transition roadmaps and argue that an integrated ecosystem approach would optimize the last mile for both private and public players while minimizing customer disruption. This scenario includes electric vehicle (EV) regulation for inner-city areas, deliveries during night-time and before/after working hours, effective data-based connectivity solutions such as dynamic re-routing and load-pooling, as well as multi-brand parcel lockers and boxes. Such a scenario could reduce CO2 emissions by 30%, congestion by 30% and delivery costs by 25% by 2030 when compared to a “do nothing” baseline. 


The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem, World Economic F0rum, January 2020