E-commerce is changing the trucking industry

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Online shopping will continue to have an effect on the trucking industry in the years to come.
19 Sep 2017

The convenience of online shopping has changed the landscape of the American shopping experience. It's also changed the trucking and freight industry in a significant way, and there's no turning back. As shoppers steer away from brick-and-mortar stores and toward what many have dubbed the "Amazon effect," truckers and fleet managers should be prepared for continued developments in the industry.

Fleetowner.com reported that at a recent McLeod User Conference, President and CEO of McLeod software Tom McLeod spoke about the shifting commerce landscape and how those advancements will affect a range of industries, including shipping. McLeod told the conference that approximately 10 percent of shopping currently occurs online, which he predicts will cause 20 percent of brick-and-mortar shops to close in the next decade. Freight services such as UPS and FedEx will likely experience a boon in profits as a result, but other fleet companies may suffer if they are not prepared to make agile attempts to enter the e-commerce market.

"So we need to be encouraged to look for those opportunities," McLeod said at the event. "We believe there are many opportunities for truckload carriers to enter this market, which used to be the exclusive province of the LTL [less than load] carriers."

E-commerce and compliance

A report by McKinsey & Company further illuminates this point. The study, released this month, predicted e-commerce sales are on track to increase by 85 percent by 2020. And while Amazon advertises the potential for deliveries by way of drones and self-driving cars, the reality is that these options are more expensive and not nearly as developed and able to handle delivery needs as the trucking industry.

Overall, the increased shipping opportunities for the fleet industry are set to rise. While this is generally positive news for truckers, e-commerce does present its own set of challenges. Adherence to compliance laws and regulations will be me more important than ever as the industry expands, so managers must be sure their truckers are up to date on the latest developments as their fleet size expands.

This is also a good time to initiate changes in technology to keep up with online service providers such as Amazon. Companies can take this opportunity to examine their needs and explore ways to improve services and compliance. Businesses can use fleet analysis software to track driver performance and any CSA issues that may arise. As part of a robust compliance and accountability program, managers can ensure their drivers are behaving in both efficient and safe ways that can benefit their fleet.

The trucking industry will also have to prepare for shifts in traffic and road congestion as shipping needs increase across the country. Crowded streets and an increase in commercial vehicles on the road will come as part of the evolution in purchasing methods as more and more shoppers turn to online outlets. As a result of increased shopping as well as the demand for one- or two-day deliveries, drivers may need to build in extra time to complete trips, or work to become more efficient while on the road.