The company-customer transfer of logistics activities


  • Rouquet Aurélien
  • Goudarzi Kiane
  • Henriquez Tatiana Henriquez


  • Service
  • Supply chain management
  • Logistics
  • Outsourcing
  • Customer relationship management

document type



Purpose The starting point of the paper is the fact that customers participate in the logistics activities of the supply chain (SC) (Johnston, 1989; Granzin and Bahn, 1989). Having established that customers can and do participate in logistics, firms can consider transferring some of their logistics activities to/from their customer. The transfer can take two contrasting forms: outsourcing by the company of some logistics activities to its customers or insourcing by the company of some logistics activities from its customers. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a theoretical understanding of these company/customer transfers. Design/methodology/approach To address this emerging issue, the authors build on the service management literature and on the study of two contrasting cases of transfer. The first (IKEA) examines the outsourcing of some logistics activities to the consumer. The second (AuchanDrive) examines the reverse process of insourcing. Findings Based on the service management literature and the two case studies, the authors develop a theoretical model for the transfer of logistics activities between a firm and its customers. The findings confirm several elements, such as the importance of managing customer participation and adapting service production during a transfer. Most importantly, the findings show that a key issue for a firm during a transfer is the need to redesign its SC in terms of transport, warehousing and production. The main contribution of the research therefore is showing that customer participation in logistics is a key variable in SC design. Research limitations/implications This research is based on the analysis of two cases. To generalise these results, further research needs to be conducted. Practical implications This research proposes recommendations to help managers and organisations to transfer some logistics activities to or from their customers. Originality/value The originality of the framework is that it considers both the company and its customers. This comprehensive approach establishes a link between supply chain management research and marketing.

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