Fulfillment strategies that offer consumers a consistent shopping experience across different channels and devices through a variety of last-mile delivery options have emerged as a powerful engine for growth in the retail sector. To thrive in this new environment, retailers need to (re)configure their last-mile supply networks to achieve better alignment between delivery responsiveness, product variety, and convenience. This article reviews multiple case studies of leading retailers across geographical regions, maps these retailers’ network configurations, and conducts consumer surveys to examine how retailers operate their last-mile distribution to cope with omnichannel demands.
This study develops a typology consisting of four ideal forms of last-mile supply networks differentiated by the speed of delivery responsiveness and level of product variety. It proposes a set of prescriptive guidelines for retailers to undertake reconfiguration of their last-mile distribution.