Exploring unattended delivery services in e-grocery retail : A consumer-centric perspective on last-mile logistics

Abstract: The retail landscape is transforming at an unprecedented speed and scale, thereby driving an unparalleled growth in last-mile delivery. The already rapidly growing online sales have been further fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the share of online sales varies greatly among different retail sectors. In grocery retail, the share of online sales is still relatively low even though it is the fastest growing e-retail sector. The idiosyncrasies of groceries set high requirements for last-mile delivery. Thus, retailers continuously explore the use of innovative services. Despite the growing interest of scholars in last-mile logistics, little is known about the customer perspective on delivery services. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to contribute to consumer-centric last-mile logistics research. This research employs a qualitative exploratory approach based on three studies that have been presented in three appended papers. The first study is a systematic review of the literature in last-mile logistics. The systematic review reveals a lack of consumer research in the field. Thus, the subsequent empirical studies explore the consumer perspective on last-mile delivery using a marketing perspective. The second study is a multiple case study on early adopters of unattended grocery delivery services that explores customer expectations of such services. The third study is an interview study that explores the customer experience related to unattended grocery delivery services. The findings of this licentiate thesis shed light on the consumer perspective in last-mile logistics. The systematic literature review reveals that last-mile logistics research lacks examination from the consumer perspective. The findings of the multiple case study provide a conceptual model of customer expectations of unattended grocery delivery services. The model represents the relationship between forms and determinants of service expectations. The study finds various forms of desired service, expected standard service, and predicted service. Furthermore, the empirical evidence demonstrates that these service expectations are determined by personal needs, technology literacy, and situational factors. The interview study findings offer a conceptual model of the customer experience of unattended grocery delivery services. The model represents the relationship between customer experience elements, customer experience dimensions, and unattended grocery delivery experience. The analysis reveals various elements related to the emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral experiences of customers. This research has several implications for theory and practice. Theoretically, this research contributes a cohesive overview of the literature on last-mile logistics. Further, the two empirical studies provide insights into the pre-purchase and post-purchase stages of the customer journey in unattended grocery delivery services. Managers can use the proposed conceptual models to design and improve unattended grocery delivery services.

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