The Rise of Crowd Logistics: A New Way to Co‐Create Logistics Value

Date01 December 2017
Published date01 December 2017
The Rise of Crowd Logistics: A New Way to Co-Create Logistics
Valentina Carbone
, Aur
elien Rouquet
, and Christine Roussat
ESCP Europe
NEOMA Business School
Clermont-Auvergne University & CRET-LOG
Patterned on crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, a new crowd practice has emerged in recent years: crowd logistics. In this paper, we propose
arst conceptualization of this growing phenomenon. Crowd logistics is a novel way of providing logistics services that taps into the dor-
mant logistics resources and capabilities of individuals, using mobile applications and web-based platforms. Although crowd logistics has been
widely discussed in the business world, it has not yet been the subject of any academic publication. Following an exploratory case study
approach, we review the websites of 57 crowd logistics initiatives around the world and highlight the main distinctive characteristics of crowd
logistics, as compared to traditional business logistics. We introduce a segmented analysis in which crowd logistics solutions are classied
according to four types of service offered. Finally, we introduce six theoretical propositions on the future development of crowd logistics. At a
theoretical level, our ndings contribute to enriching the service-dominant logic perspective in the logistics eld by conceptualizing the crowd
as a co-creator of logistics value. At a managerial level, our ndings contribute to identifying which types of crowd logistics services are more
likely to threaten or disrupt traditional business.
Keywords: crowd practices; consumer logistics; sharing economy; logistics service providers; value co-creation
One of the numerous outcomes of the digital revolution on our
oldeconomy is the recent rise of crowdsourcinginitiatives:
GoFundMe, Wikipedia, etc. Activities that were once handled by
arm and its designated agents such as employees can now be
entrusted to the multitude of ordinary people, the crowdof
individuals (Howe 2006). Management research has hitherto
focused on two types of crowd practices: rst, crowdfunding
(Ordanini et al. 2011; Belleamme et al. 2014), which aims to
tap into the nancial resources of the crowd in order to nance
projects; and second, crowd innovation (Collm and Schedler
2012; Boudreau and Lakhani 2013), which aims to tap into the
intellectual resources of the crowd for the purpose of innovation.
In addition to nancial and intellectual resources, the crowd
also possesses logistics resources: strong arms to move furniture,
physical assets such as garages to store merchandise and vehicles
to transport goods. Often left idle and underutilized, these
resources may be activated when needed to provide logistics ser-
vices. This opportunity is currently being exploited by a host of
start-ups that are appearing all over the planet. In the United
States, for example, Deliv enlists private individuals to provide
faster and cheaper delivery services to customers of retail stores.
In the United Kingdom, Storenextdoor seeks to make use of the
unoccupied garages and basements of individuals by renting
them out, thus providing local storage options at a low price.
Newcomers are attracted by this business potential. After taking
on the taxi industry, Uber is now entering logistics markets to
offer new services: UberEATS for food deliveries and
UberRUSH offering same-day delivery to online shoppers (in
New York, San Francisco and Chicago).
Bearing in mind the dearth of research on this topic, our pur-
pose is to develop an initial conceptual approach to these initia-
tives, which we term crowd logistics,meant as initiatives that
tap into the logistical resources of the crowd to perform logistics
services.This article is structured in six sections. The rst sec-
tion reviews the (scarce) literature that relates to crowd logistics.
The second section presents our methodology, which is based on
the study of 57 cases of emergent crowd logistics initiatives. The
third section highlights the main differences between crowd
logistics and traditional business logistics. The fourth section
introduces a typology of the different crowd logistics initiatives,
based on the logistics services offered (storage, local delivery,
freight shipping, or freight forwarding). The fth section shows
how our results contribute to enriching the service-dominant
logic perspective in the logistics eld (Lusch et al. 2014) and
introduces six theoretical propositions on the future development
of crowd logistics. The sixth section discusses the potential
impacts of crowd logistics on traditional businesses and argues
that crowd local delivery is likely to have the strongest impact in
the future. Finally, the conclusion identies the limitations of our
article and opens several avenues for future research.
Crowdsourcing, a neologism formed from the words crowd
and outsourcing,was initially popularized by Howe (2006). It
refers to the outsourcing by a rm of some activities to the
crowd. The phenomenon encompasses a highly varied group of
approaches that share one obvious attribute in common: they all
depend on some contributors from the crowd. But the nature of
those contributions can differ tremendously(Howe 2008, 280).
Corresponding author:
elien Rouquet, NEOMA Business School, Reims, France;
Journal of Business Logistics, 2017, 38(4): 238252 doi: 10.1111/jbl.12164
© Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals

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