| 15.06.2020

Rise in e-commerce during corona crisis has revealed the need for sustainable choices for last mile deliveries

How could we increase sustainability in urban last mile deliveries? Can innovations both reduce the negative effects of e-commerce and simultaneously create a top delivery system for consumers? Hanken School of Economics is coordinating a Nordic research project that will dive into these questions.

Due to a rise in e-commerce and urbanization there is a rapid increase in last mile deliveries in the Nordic countries and internationally. This pace may increase due to the Corona crisis where many choose to shop on-line in order to avoid crowds.

In a few years, last mile deliveries may impose a considerable problem for cities where activities are already competing for space. The last mile is often the most inefficient, costly, and emission intensive part of the transport chain. The negative effects of transport (emissions, congestion and accidents) become critical in cities where people live and work.

The research project Innovative sustainable urban last mile: small vehicles and business models (i-SMILE) develops an innovation platform for upscaling sustainable business models for urban last mile deliveries.

– Our project will try to identify the drivers for making sustainable choices in last mile deliveries, and propose innovative business models. We look at it from various perspectives:  consumers, shippers and logistics service providers, as well as municipalities. We are also interested in  how sustainability is established through interaction in the delivery system, says Anna Aminoff, Assistant Professor in Supply Chain Management and Social Responsibility at Hanken.

To meet the growing demand for logistic services due to e-commerce, the project will further investigate the use of light electric freight vehicles (LEFVs) and automatised delivery vehicles in last-mile deliveries.

– Presently, several logistics service providers test LEFVs in urban last-mile deliveries. They search for sustainable business models and ways of upscaling the use of these vehicles. One major, outstanding question is, however, what type of LEFV is optimal for transporting which freight flows, Aminoff comments.

The Nordic research consortium brings together multidisciplinary competences including businesses and research institutes from Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The three-year project is partly funded by Nordic Innovation and has a total budget of 750 000 EUR (Hanken’s part 145 000 EUR).



Hanken School of Economics, Finland
VTI, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden
TÖI, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway
CBS, Copenhagen Business School, Danmark

Corporate partners: 

DHL Express
Amedia Distribusjon
CoReorient Oy
AtoB Finland Oy
Seulo palvelut/ Kauppahalli 24


Anna Aminoff, Hanken
Niklas Arvidsson, VTI
Sidsel Ahlmann Jensen, TOI
Britta Gammelgaard, CBS