Although supply chain management and city logistics can be confused, they relate to a different set of issues and approaches. Supply chain management (SCM) is concerned about the organization of supply chains to reach goals, while city logistics seeks to regulate freight distribution activities (which are the outcome of SCM) to minimize its potential disruptions in the urban landscape. Supply chains are usually managed by private corporations with economies of scale supporting a concentration within a few actors competing and transacting. City logistics takes place in a setting where a multitude of public actors are involved, including branches of government, advocacy groups, residents, and retail activities. The relations between these groups are often conflicting.
SCM operates in a networking fashion, connecting suppliers, customers, and all the intermediary stages (such as distribution centers). City logistics mostly operates over a specific space characterized by different jurisdictions, uses, and densities. Last, SCM focuses on efficiency through an approach that seeks to maximize profits and minimize costs. City logistics seeks to achieve the goal of minimizing disruptions and therefore maintaining or improving the effectiveness of urban circulation; workers able to commute within an acceptable amount of time, residents able to undertake commercial and social activities without significant hindrance and stores able to be supplied without disruptions in their inventories.