Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (3): 500-514.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201603012

• Geographic Information Analysis • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Does time dictate the location of e-commerce business?A study of O2O businesses in Chengdu, China

Kunbo SHI1(), Yongchun YANG1,2(), Xin'ao YANG1, Shuo BAI1, Rui SHAO3, Bo LI1   

  1. 1. College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental Systems, Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
    3. College of Resources Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2015-09-01 Revised:2015-11-13 Online:2016-03-25 Published:2016-03-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571155, No.41171143;The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No.lzujbky-2015-216


The main factor that decides the location of traditional businesses is the physical distance between their location and their target customers. Development of information and communication technologies (ICT) means the influence that physical distance exerts on businesses has decreased; however, the influence of time (the time it takes customers to visit physical retail outlets) has increased. However, it is not known if the costs associated with time are the main factors dictating the location of e-commerce businesses that decide to open a physical outlet: this paper tries to answer this question. The paper establishes a spatial relationship between the market size of online-to-offline (O2O) businesses and the accessibility and the location advantage relating to time/physical distance in Chengdu, in China's Sichuan Province. The results show that: (1) Overall, time has a greater impact than physical distance on business activities in Chengdu, and is the primary factor in the location selection of O2O businesses. (2) The O2O business whose location is dictated by physical distance has freedom to develop; however, the one whose location is dictated by time is more sensitive, and the spatial distribution of market size is more suitable to the location advantage based on time-cost. Hence, the spatial matching and the dependence between market size and location advantage show that there are slightly more businesses whose location is dictated by time than by distance in Chengdu. (3) Moving from the urban center to the outskirts of Chengdu, the influence of time on the location of O2O businesses remains almost the same, and the influence of physical distance gradually weakens. This means that, outside the urban centers, time has a greater influence than distance. Physical distance dictates the location of O2O businesses in Chengdu's urban center and time dictates their location in Chengdu's outskirts. (4) The impact that physical distance has on the location of O2O businesses is important in Chengdu because of its urbanization and ICT levels, and because of the behavior of consumers and suppliers. This means that both time and distance play a key role in the location development of O2O businesses. (5) The main factors that encourage an e-commerce business to open a physical outlet include demands from the consumers and the suppliers on reducing time-related costs, and the convenience of ICT.

Key words: business location, O2O e-commerce, time-cost, accessibility, Chengdu