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Incorporating online shopping into travel demand modelling: challenges, progress, and opportunities

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There is a large body of literature, spanning multiple disciplines, concerned with the relationship between traditional (physical) shopping and associated travel behaviour. However, despite the recent rapid growth of digital retailing and online shopping, the impact on travel behaviour remain poorly understood. Although the issue of the substitution and complementarity between conventional and virtual retail channels has been extensively explored, few attempts have been made to extend this work so as to incorporate virtual retail channels into modelling frameworks that can link shopping and mobility decisions. Here, we review the existing literature base with a focus on most relevant dimensions for personal mobility. How online activity can be incorporated into operational transport demand models and benefits of such effort are discussed. Existing frameworks of shopping demand are flexible and can, in principle, be extended to incorporate virtual shopping and the associated additional complexities. However, there are significant challenges associated with lack of standard ontologies for crucial concepts and insufficiencies in traditional data collection methods. Also, supply-side questions facing businesses and policy-makers are changing as retailing goes through a digital transformation. Opportunities and priorities need to be defined for future research directions for an assessment of existing tools and frameworks.
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Keywords: Transport planning; demand models; e-commerce; online shopping

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Transport Studies, Imperial College London, London, UK

Publication date: September 3, 2018

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