In “E-Commerce Boom Roils Trucking Industry,” published April 14, 2016, Betsy Morris of the Wall Street Journal details how e-commerce has altered consumer behavior. With American consumers doing a bulk of their shopping online now, the way people make purchases and how they make purchases is changing. The ripple effect is hitting shipping companies, real estate, banking and tech. In particular, the effect of changes in consumer behavior is impacting the tracking industry. Truckers must decide whether or not to put multiple customers’ purchases into a single truckload, or to treat e-commerce separately and deliver “less-than-truckload.” Consumers who are buying things online are often buying miscellaneous objects, making it difficult for trucking companies to figure out the most optimal way of delivering goods. In addition, truckers face logistical challenges from having to deliver goods to neighborhoods which do not have streets designed to accommodate large trucks. Deliveries therefore take longer, costing the trucker and the business money. Ultimately, e-commerce is shifting the trucking industry away from delivering to companies and toward the more labor-intensive business of delivering to residences.
In addition, the companies selling these goods online, companies like Amazon.com, are raising consumers’ expectations regarding deliveries. Other businesses like Home Depot are trying to keep up with the way Amazon will serve its customers by delivering just about anything super quickly. This has resulted in Home Depot squeezing the truckers to get them to make more difficult deliveries. However, shipping costs are not sufficient to cover the extra labor costs incurred by the truckers making the deliveries. The industry is currently scrambling to live up to delivery promises made to consumers, promises that did not adequately take into account the role of the truckers doing the deliveries.
This article highlights the shifts in consumer behavior and how marketing strategy is struggling to keep up. Amazon’s marketing strategy is to provide any good any consumer could want right to their doorstep as quickly as possible. This sounds great to consumers, who can click and button and sit back to wait for their goods to be delivered. However, behind the scenes is the trucking industry, which is struggling to adapt to these rapid and demanding changes. An industry that was meant to deliver on broad highways to large businesses is struggling to adapt to this shift in strategy by many businesses. Even truckers delivering for companies who are not Amazon are forced to deal with new consumer attitudes about deliveries. Businesses like Home Depot, in an effort to stay competitive with Amazon, is pushing truckers to adapt.
Meanwhile, the consumers at the end of the chain are largely ignorant of these changes the new demands they put on the trucking industry. That is because the change for consumers has been seamless and easy. Consumer behavior has adapted quickly to Amazon’s marketing strategy. That is because services like Amazon makes their life easier. Consumers have come to expect that they can have anything at all delivered to their door. It is not a special request anymore; it is simply the way things are. That culture has quickly become ingrained with consumers. When they make decisions about what to buy online and where to buy it, they expect to find an online retailer who can accommodate this new standard for delivery. However, in the meantime the truckers at the end of the supply chain are caught in the difficult position of having to meet a new standard of consumer expectations. The companies that employ the truckers are pushing them to meet the promises they have given their customers. It seems that this change in consumer behavior and marketing strategy will eventually force truckers to rethink their own strategy. The other option is for consumers decision making to change, but the idea of one-click shopping has become so ingrained in consumers and so profitable for companies who offer that service that it would be very hard to alter now.
- Morris, B. (2016, April 14). E-Commerce Boom Roils Trucking Industry. Retrieved April 14, 2016, from http://www.wsj.com/