The impact of B2C commerce on traditional B2B warehousing

Vaggelis Giannikas, Philip Woodall, Duncan McFarlane, Wenrong Lu

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding



With the emergence of electronic commerce, traditional warehousing companies are increasingly required to offer services to clients doing B2C commerce. This challenges both existing operations and information systems as they are often designed to support more traditional B2B commerce. As a result, it is important for warehousing companies to understand the special requirements of B2C commerce in order to appropriately design and adapt their operations. In this paper we study this issue and propose a model for examining the similarities and differences between B2B and B2C warehousing.


A two-stage methodology is used in this study. We first develop a theoretical model based on existing literature, to examine the similarities and differences between B2B and B2C warehousing. In the second stage, the model is used to study the impact of B2B and B2C commerce on key warehousing operations (i.e. receiving, storing, picking, shipping, other value-added services) and on supportive activities (e.g. performance evaluation, technology and equipment). In order to study this impact, data is collected using two research methods –practitioner interviews and direct observations at a case company offering both B2B and B2C offering.


This study highlights the different requirements and needs B2B and B2C commerce have in terms of warehousing services. It shows how the different nature of B2B and B2C commerce affects different elements of warehousing. It also illustrates the fact that operations and information systems designed for B2B warehousing are not always suitable for B2C.


Existing frameworks and tools for warehouse design and management do not recognise the differences between B2B and B2C warehousing. Moreover, the model proposed in this paper itself can be used as a tool for studying specific B2B and B2C projects and examining how existing operations have to adapt to satisfy them.


This research study opens up a new area of investigation into how to adapt existing B2B operations and information systems to also cater for B2C customers (and the opposite). Data collection was conducted using interviews and observations, and there could be differences in different countries and industries. Future research could use a surveybased methodology to validate the model using the warehouse managers’ view on the impact the type of commerce has on warehousing.


The results of this study indicate that even though the differences between B2B and B2C warehousing are significant, there are opportunities for effectively servicing both types of 22nd ISL 2017 Ljubljana, Slovenia, 9 – 12th July 2017
commerce within the same warehouse. The model can be used to understand the challenges that will be faced by companies willing to offer both types of services
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISL 2017: 22nd International Symposium on Logistics
EditorsK. S. Pawar, A. Potter, A. Lisec
PublisherNottingham University Business School
Pages375 - 383
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780853583196
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2017
Event22nd International Symposium on Logistics : Data Driven Supply Chains - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Duration: 9 Jul 201712 Jul 2017


Conference22nd International Symposium on Logistics
Abbreviated titleISL 2017
Internet address


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