Master Thesis on Business Models for the Last Mile Problem

The master thesis “Business Models for the Last Mile Problem from the Perspective of Energy Providers” offers a business model perspective on how to cope with the last mile delivery problem, with a focus on the energy industry. Here is the abstract:

E-commerce has seen significant growth in the past years, and demand in last mile delivery did so too. This trend is expected to continue for the subsequent years, with e.g., last mile deliveries in urban areas growing by 78% in the next ten years. In that regard, last mile providers have to cope with several challenges such as increased customer expectations and power, high costs and negative externalities. In that regard, a considerable amount of research is devoted to logistics service providers, e-tailers, retailers, and different business models and innovative solutions.

However, this thesis aims to examine the role that energy providers could play regarding last mile delivery. The three guiding questions in that regard are: (1) What are the most important current and future business models of last mile delivery? (2) What key resources and capabilities do energy providers possess that are relevant for last mile delivery business models? And (3) With regards to which business models identified in part one can the resources and capabilities identified in part two be most valuable?

To address these research questions, a grounded theory approach is followed while combining insights from academic and grey literature with results from semi-structured expert interviews.

Findings in that regard suggest that especially energy providers that also run public transport networks (either by themselves or through affiliate companies), can play a vital role in last mile delivery, and more specifically, the parcel delivery business model. Here, in the course of the increasing electrification, energy providers can play a crucial role in providing the necessary infrastructure in terms of charging technology and micro-hubs for transhipment. Moreover, they could leverage existing infrastructure and customer relationships to offer carrier-independent parcel locker networks. In the long-term, as soon as autonomous driving also reaches last mile delivery, they are well-positioned to play a vital role as a service provider or facilitator in that particular area too.

These suggested roles provide a good starting point for energy providers looking for new business opportunities in the field of last mile delivery as well as last mile providers actively seeking cooperation with other sectors.