Multi-Agent Learning of Efficient Fulfilment and Routing Strategies in E-Commerce

Published: 28 Oct 2023, Last Modified: 04 Dec 2023GenPlan'23EveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: This paper presents an integrated algorithmic framework for minimising product delivery costs in e-commerce (known as the cost-to-serve or C2S). One of the major challenges in e-commerce is the large volume of spatio-temporally diverse orders from multiple customers, each of which has to be fulfilled from one of several warehouses using a fleet of vehicles. This results in two levels of decision-making: (i) selection of a fulfillment node for each order (including the option of deferral to a future time), and then (ii) routing of vehicles (each of which can carry multiple orders originating from the same warehouse). We propose an approach that combines graph neural networks and reinforcement learning to train the node selection and vehicle routing agents. We include real-world constraints such as warehouse inventory capacity, vehicle characteristics such as travel times, service times, carrying capacity, and customer constraints including time windows for delivery. The complexity of this problem arises from the fact that outcomes (rewards) are driven both by the fulfillment node mapping as well as the routing algorithms, and are spatio-temporally distributed. Our experiments show that this algorithmic pipeline outperforms pure heuristic policies.
Submission Number: 14