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Impact of the growing mail order on traffic

In this research project (at the request of the Swiss Association of Transport Engineers and Experts SVI), the effects of the increasing mail order business on traffic volume are being investigated and measures and recommendations for action to reduce the associated external costs are being formulated.

Initial situation and objectives

The mail order business (mainly characterized by the emergence of online trading) has been subject to fundamental changes in recent years and is still in a dynamic development. This development has an influence on both passenger and freight transport. The effects of mail order on transport have not yet been investigated in Switzerland. On the basis of a better understanding of the current situation and the future development of the effects induced by mail order on traffic volume and traffic/mileage performance, this project will develop proposals for measures to reduce the negative effects of the increasing mail order business on traffic and the negative effects induced by traffic, and help to seize emerging opportunities, e.g. in the sense of traffic reductions.

Project schedule

  1. In a first step, the literature on the developments in the mail order business, in particular in the online trade, and the influence of these developments on transport will be reviewed and prepared. For the analyses of passenger and freight traffic, different methodological approaches are applied.
  2. As an analytical framework for further work, the next step will be to develop an impact model that identifies the drivers of developments in the mail-order sector, outlines the mail-order sector and its players, and highlights the effects of mail-order on transport and other aspects such as environmental impacts.
  3. In a final step, the effects on transport (passenger and freight transport) will be quantified. An online survey will be conducted to assess the transport behaviour of consumers, focusing on online commerce, which is the most important mail order channel (measured by turnover). For the assessment of the effects of the increasing mail order business on freight transport, trends and framework conditions (such as changed customer and market requirements, technological and regulatory changes) are examined which may also have an impact on the development of freight logistics and freight transport. In addition to preparing the most future-relevant developments in mail-order business from the literature, various expert workshops with experts from logistics, retail trade and the public sector will be conducted in this work step.

At a glance

Participating Institutes ZHAW:

Project partners:

Project Manager ZHAW:

  • Helene Schmelzer


  • Thomas Trachsel

Project status: finished