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Electronic Commerce and Technology in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Faculty- Chris Westland, Information and Decision Sciences, PI, Houshang Darabi , Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Co- PI, Jane Lin, Civil and Materials Engineering, Co-PI , P.S. Sriraj, Urban Transportation Center, Co-PI

Business models for electronic commerce and internet logistics are evolving quickly in the US, and Chicago (already the US' major logistics and supply-chain hub) has become one of three important centers for this activity (the others being San Francisco and Seattle). Chicago based Groupon, a vendor of online discounts, recently rejected a $6 billion offer from Google and is considering a flotation with a potential valuation of $15 billion. Groupon is now the fastest growing social networking site in the World. Zynga, the social-network games company that has tempted millions to grow virtual vegetables in its FarmVille game, has been valued at $9 billion. Profitless Twitter is said to be worth $10 billion. Furthermore, advanced logistics and additive manufacturing - the three dimensional printing of industrial parts and products from designs that may be transferred across the internet -is beginning to segue with electronic commerce to radically alter the face of logistics. Around 20% or $1.5 billion of 3D printing is applied to for-profit additive manufacturing, and this is growing 10% annually.

China's internet population now approaches 500 million - almost twice the US's 250 million - with three-fifths of Chinese using the internet primarily from mobile devices. New business models and stock market floatations expanding the application of internet commerce to logistics and transportation by Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have been highly successful. We seek to be a leading center of research, teaching and consulting for the development, analysis, investment and understanding of the US and Greater China's influence in internet based businesses and logistics.

The goal of this project is to provide an institutional structure that encourages new theoretical and empirical studies in global internet commerce to understand the future of e-commerce innovation, and to define appropriate local Chicago area and nationwide competitive responses. The project will define business models for e- commerce, compare East vs. West e-commerce strategies and define Chicago area and national responses. Specific topics to be investigated include: successful and unsuccessful business models for e-commerce; electronic security market models; high- frequency trading in electronic markets; advanced logistics for e-commerce user interfaces and for pure information products; logistics and search for 3D printed-output additive manufacturing; and multi-agent-based supply chain management.

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