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Logistics and Distribution Innovations in China: The New Era

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

Guest Editors: Baofeng Huo (Zhejiang University), Haozhe Chen (Iowa State University), and Henry Jin (Miami University)

Many people might not realize that China has become a fertile ground for logistics and distribution innovations. Booming e-commerce is the driving force of such development. China Daily recently reported that China’s online sales in 2017 is approaching $1 trillion -- almost as much as in America and Britain combined (Zhang, 2017). Already the world’s largest e-commerce market, Goldman Sachs predicts that China’s online share of total retail will continue to rise and will reach 31% by 2020 (The Economist, 2017). In addition to the sheer size of e-commerce in China, the trend highlights the changing behavior of Chinese consumers. It is estimated that about 80% of adults in China’s biggest cities already shop online. According to, in 2016 around 63.4% of the Chinese mobile online population was using their mobile phones to shop online. This is why The Economist contends that e-commerce in China is “sweeping the board”.

Many Chinese companies are embracing the fast-changing market with great enthusiasm. Instead of passively reacting to market conditions, many leading Chinese firms are taking approaches by creating new business models and processes. These new business models focus on devising innovative ways of attracting consumers by fundamentally changing how consumers make their purchases, pay for their products and have them delivered. As a result, Chinese e-commerce giants are emerging. Alibaba is leading this transition. The Economist suggests that Alibaba should be viewed as a combination of Amazon, Twitter, eBay, and PayPal, but broader. Another leading firm is Tencent that started its business in online gaming and messaging, but has become a major competitor of Alibaba by capturing a significant portion of the mobile-payment market. Unlike Alibaba, another Chinese e-commerce company has developed its own distribution system to sell its own inventory and that of third parties. The intentional blurring of consumers’ digital activities has enabled these Chinese companies to develop innovative distribution and logistics systems.

Unfortunately, the rapid developments of ecommerce and innovative multi-channel business models in China have not been adequately documented and studied in Western literature. Accordingly, this special issue intends to address that gap with meaningful, cutting-edge articles that highlight distribution and logistics innovations in China. A better understanding of these phenomena will be helpful for the growth of Chinese companies and will provide critical ideas and prescriptions for practitioners and scholars in other countries.

In line with IJPDLM’s long-time attention to logistics topics in China (Chen, 2015), we therefore cordially invite scholars, executives and academic/executive teams to submit articles to this special issue that describe and examine the latest, up-to-date thinking and practices of leading e-commerce firms in China. In addition to descriptive case studies, we encourage different types of articles. Thus conceptual, qualitative, and quantitative methods are all welcome. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Innovative distribution and logistics models and processes 
  • Case studies on omni-channel or multi-channel logistics and distribution innovations
  • Demand chain management and demand-supply integration in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Customer service interfaces and challenges in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Logistics and distribution network design in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Tracking, tracing and transparency in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Logistics and distribution analytics and big data analytics in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Sustainability considerations in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Returns management considerations in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Benchmarking and performance measurement in in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts
  • Supply chain risk management in e-commerce and multi-channel contexts

Manuscripts should be prepared following the normal author guidelines for International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management and may be submitted through the journal's online system.  Details on how to submit and author guidelines can be found at:

Special Issue papers are due by 31 August, 2018, but can be submitted as soon as possible (please ensure you check the Logistics and Distribution Innovation in Chins special issue option). Publication is anticipated in 2019.

All submitted papers deemed topically appropriate will undergo an expedited International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management review process. For questions about the appropriateness of topics, please contact any of the Guest Editors below.

Guest Editors:

Baofeng Huo (Zhejiang University), [email protected]
Haozhe Chen (Iowa State University), [email protected]
Henry Jin (Miami University), [email protected]