Theses Doctoral

Supply Chain and Service Operations with Demand-Side Flexibility

Zhou, Yeqing

In this thesis, we consider improving supply chain and service systems through demand-side management. In Chapters 1 and 2, we focus on a new notion of flexibility that has emerged in e-commerce called consumer flexibility. Motivated by the fact that some customers may willingly provide flexibility on which product or service they receive in exchange for a reward, firms can design flexible options to leverage this consumer flexibility for significant benefit in their operations.

In Chapter 1, we consider the context of online retailing where consumer flexibility can be realized through opaque selling, where some specific attributes of the products are not revealed to the customer until after purchase. In Chapter 2, we focus on the context of online booking systems for scheduled services where consumer flexibility can be realized through large time windows. The main findings are on the power of limited flexibility using simple flexible options with just a small fraction of customers willing to be flexible.

In Chapter 3, we study the issue of congested elevator queuing systems due to the requirement of social distancing during a pandemic. We propose simple interventions for safely managing the elevator queues, which require no programming of the elevator system and only manage passenger behaviors. The key idea is to explicitly or implicitly group passengers going to the same or nearby floor into the same elevator as much as possible. Simulations and stability analysis show that our proposed interventions significantly reduce queue length and wait time.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Thesis Advisors
Elmachtoub, Adam N.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 4, 2021