From dinner to designer shoes, an increase in online shopping might seem like a win-win for both retailers and customers. However, transporting goods to customers quickly and inexpensively has become a struggle for many retailers that are trying to meet customer demands in a relatively new online marketplace.
To address this pressing problem, the newly launched Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics (SCTL) Center has partnered with retailers Costco, Nordstrom and UPS, as well as the Seattle Department of Transportation, to devise solutions to better deliver goods throughout the city. The SCTL is the first center of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
“The new center will focus on research challenges that agencies can’t solve on their own,” said SCTL Center Director and CEE Associate Professor Anne Goodchild. “We are undergoing a complete transformation in delivery systems.”
To celebrate the grand opening of the SCTL, more than 50 transportation experts from the region gathered on the morning of October 12, 2016, to learn more about the partnership and initial projects that will soon be underway. The research will be conducted in the Urban Freight Lab, which is part of the SCTL Center.
At the opening event, Congressman Dave Reichert, who co-chairs the Congressional Freight Caucus, expressed this enthusiasm for the new center. Seattle is a leader in how goods move throughout the region and across the nation, he said, as more than 70 percent of the goods received at the port are shipped elsewhere, with only 30% remaining in the city.
“We are the leaders in showing the nation what trade looks like,” Reichert said. “It falls on us to decide how to move goods from the port.”
One of the first projects the researchers will tackle is called the “final 50 feet,” which is the last leg of delivery, the point where the delivery drivers parks their vehicle to complete the final delivery step. The researchers will create a map of loading zones and alleys to determine how delivery systems are currently functioning and will test a variety of solutions such as managing curb space differently. The team will eventually create an Urban Freight Score to evaluate the ability of trucks to access various locations throughout the city.
“At the same time we see an increase in online shopping, retailers are struggling. It’s a fundamental economic challenge for them and there is intense competition for roadway use,” Goodchild said. “We are excited to get started.”
View photos from the opening event.