E-Commerce and the Future of Land Use

Zoning Practice — January 2020

By Richard Stein, AICP


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In the race to deliver goods directly to consumers at an ever-increasing rate and speed, companies such as Amazon and Walmart are changing the very nature of local retail. This ongoing revolution in "fulfillment" will continue to have a major impact on zoning and land use.

Existing zoning codes, many of which were written for a simpler time, are inadequate and may allow undesirable uses to proliferate or prevent small businesses from competing in the modern marketplace. The next generation of the fulfillment center already exists — it's the store next door and the delivery truck on your street — it's the Ama-zoning of America.

This edition of Zoning Practice looks at the past, present, and future of e-commerce, and outlines how the emerging intersections of the technological and urban landscapes may require a fundamental rethinking of zoning and land use at the local level.


Page Count
Date Published
Jan. 1, 2020
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Richard Stein, AICP
Rick Stein is the Principal and Owner of Urban Decision Group – an urban planning and professional services firm located in Columbus, Ohio. He is an active member of the American Planning Association (APA), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Mr. Stein is an active contributor to Urbanism Next – whose focus is conducting research and providing information about the potential impacts of emerging technologies. His recent work is focused on the new retail economy and its impact on cites.