The Future of Urban Logistics

As rapid urbanisation, evolving consumer demands and the emergence of new channels of distribution continue to change the face of the Transport & Logistics Industry, a new set of social, political, economic and environmental problems is challenging both governments and private actors alike.

Emerging Challenges for Industry, Government

Urban logistics is quickly becoming a major issue of interest for both municipal authorities and the Transport & Logistics Industry alike. 73% of Europeans already live in cities and these urban areas generate 85% of European GDP. In the United States, 81% of the population lives in cities and suburbs, while in China, this number has jumped from 26% to over 53% in the past quarter century.

For local governments, the cheap and easy movement of goods is crucial for ensuring that their cities remain competitive, attractive and environmentally friendly. For logistics providers and transporters, last-mile logistics – from the final delivery center to the customer's doorstep – are becoming increasingly costly and complex to manage with urbanisation, ever more stringent consumer demands and the growth of new channels of distribution – notably e-commerce.

In order to address the growing difficulties of urban logistics, public authorities and private actors must contend with a host of social, economic and environmental challenges:

  • Growing environmental concerns and developing regulatory responses;
  • More consumer demands for convenience and service quality;
  • Increased traffic volumes and congestion of public spaces (curb space for loading and unloading…);
  • Emergence of new distribution channels and growing complexity of goods;
  • Incorporating innovation into already complex urban supply chains;
  • Wide array of stakeholders involved in the policy planning process (government, transporters, residents/consumers…) and, often, diverging views about the place of logistics in the city's future.

Unique Responses for Diverse Cities

Because of the variety of urban landscapes and regulatory frameworks, different urban logistic models have emerged to respond to these challenges. The table below presents a sample of private and public initiatives that have been developed in Europe and the United States.

Ile-de-France - Paris (France)


An approach to the urban logistics divided into three zones of increasing urban density. 

  • Larger urban area: logistical platforms as points of entry 
  • Densely built areas: Consolidation centres (logistics hotel, freight terminal..)
  • Highly dense area: Urban delivery centres 

London (United Kingdom) 


A push for cooperation and pooling of resources against the backdrop of a new urban toll.

  • Urban toll introduced in 2003
  • New demand for collaborative solutions among urban business owners
  • Development of a fleet of electric/flexi-fuel vehicles

Los Angeles (USA) 

Implementation of the Clean Truck Program

A proactive approach to cutting emissions and changing behaviours in the country's largest port. 

  • Opening up of dedicated lanes/corridors 
  • Regulatory changes (progressive phasing out of the most polluting vehicles) 
  • Encourages evolutions in behaviours within the industry with the goal of improving air quality

Our expertise

Mazars has proven experience providing assistance to municipal governments, public authorities and private businesses in the Transport & Logistics Industry as they grapple with the growing challenges of urban logistics. Our global references in this area include: 

  • Led a study on "Urban Logistics and Sub-contracting of Last Mile Services" in 2011 for the regional government of Ile-de-France. 
  • Completed a study on "Research in the Domain of Merchandise Transport and Logistics" in 2012 for the French Directorate-General for Infrastructure, Transportation and Maritime Affairs. 
  • Headed up a strategic study for the creation of a "Metropolitan Strategy for Electric-Powered Transportation", covering both the urban transportation of people and goods, for the Bordeaux Metropolitan Area. 
  • Accompanied Transfrigoroute France in the definition of its position and development of its activity in the domain of urban logistics. 

Case study

Territorial Autorithies

"Virtuous" models of urban logistics

The issue of sustainable urban logistics is increasingly being taken up by local authorities. Mazars was mandated by a French regional government to accompany them as they sought to develop "virtuous" models of urban logistics.

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Transports Logistics

Our expertise

Transport & Logistics encompasses a broad range of businesses including transporters, shippers, intermediaries and service providers among others. Despite this diversity, there are clearly some common developments and challenges affecting many of the actors of this industry. Mazars has combined its extensive experience and wide range of expertise to develop tailored solutions to help T&L companies tackle these challenges.