Just a few decades ago, people had to go to physical stores to shop for whatever they needed and wanted. Then the internet came along, later giving rise to electronic commerce, or e-commerce. This kind of shopping is done entirely electronically over the internet, with users either buying or selling goods and services.
While some brick-and-mortar stores have managed to stay open, e-commerce has grown so quickly that it’s affected several industries and how they function. The trucking industry got hit with this, too, so before you get that best Kenworth semi truck for sale you found some time before, it’s important to know just how e-commerce has impacted trucking businesses, so you can better manage your expectations.
Every form of transportation moves freight, but for the most part, trucking is still the top pick. That said, the trucking industry is an important link between retailers and buyers. The latter are now expecting products to be delivered as quickly as possible, with as little extra cost as possible. Retailers, of course, have to find a way to answer this expectation, and the pressure largely falls on truckers.
With these changes, shorter jobs that involve pickup and delivery are replacing the longer inter-regional or national hauling jobs, and many truck drivers now operate in smaller regions instead of over-the-road (OTR). That means instead of one trucker handling one delivery, there could be several in a chain to get the product from the fulfillment center to the consumer.
While this also means truckers have more time to spend with their families, e-commerce truckers may have to take on additional freight jobs to make up the difference in income.
Faster shipping also leads to faster turnaround times, and with the increase of online shopping, it’s not unthinkable for more trucks to be on urban roads. This won’t help congestion in cities, especially in areas that usually experience heavy traffic.
Unfortunately, not all roads were built to handle that many large and heavy vehicles. As roads get damaged over time, this can put more stress on trucks, affecting how safely they operate. That combined with the traffic can lead to brake failure, at the very least.
Driver Retention Problems
Any industry has its share of problems, and for the trucking industry, driver retention is one of them. Recently, driver shortage has joined that list, too – at least, for long-haul jobs.
As e-commerce grows, the demand for short-haul truck drivers grows as well; in fact, the US Department of Transportation projects that the annual freight volume will reach about 29 billion tons by 2040, with most of that being hauled by trucks.
Because of the age requirement for cross-state truck driving, it’s no surprise that younger drivers find local e-commerce deliveries more attractive. With the almost never-ending list of such deliveries, these drivers will have no shortage of job opportunities. However, this also presents a problem for long-haul jobs, with older drivers retiring and very few younger ones taking their place, since local deliveries mean a more stable work schedule and that’s something many young truckers are apparently after.