The impact of e-commerce on truck manufacturing.

There’s little doubt digital online buying – a.k.a. the ‘Amazon Effect’, is impacting traditional retailers, especially since Walmart has stepped up to the plate to compete with Amazon in this competitive e-commerce space.  While consumers enjoy the benefits of their e-commerce ‘warfare’, another dynamic to the ‘Amazon Effect’ being brought into the forefront is truck and trailer manufacturing.

The supply procedure of any online purchase is run ‘not as a marathon but rather as a relay,’ says Bruce Sauer, of Truck/Body Builder. Adding, “Track coaches typically assign their fastest, most reliable runner to anchor the final leg of the race. It’s where many relays are won and lost”. His clever analogy highlights the importance and emphasis supply chain management and 3PL (third party logistics) companies are putting on the ‘final mile’ – the shipping, handling and delivery phase, of any e-commerce order.  Retailers need to be paying attention too.

Delivery vehicles are being re-designed to have better maneuverability at distribution and fulfillment centers moving away from full truckload models to more ‘metro-friendly freight patterns.’  Additionally, vehicles will likely be lighter and also get better gas mileage; ‘optimized’ so as to maximize cargo space and keep drivers comfortable, safe and able to conduct their job most efficiently. E-commerce has created a ‘trucking revolution’ that has really only just begun.

Since the physical size of the United States remains enormous, trailers will remain to play a vital role says Brent Yeagy, president and chief operating officer at Wabash National, a leading producer of commercial trucking equipment.  However, “E-commerce is not linear,” Yeagy says, “It’s growing exponentially. And its implications for the trucking industry promise to be more disruptive than 99% of us can even fathom at this point.”

Consumer expectations are also a big influencer. AlixPartners, LLP recently found in their 2016 Consumer Shipping Survey, seventy-five percent of e-commerce consumers are ‘greatly impacted’ by free shipping when they are making purchasing decisions. ‘Free and fast’ are what consumers expect and this expectation is another reason delivery vehicle manufacturers are rethinking their designs.

Simply put, a consumers’ last impression of a retailer is based upon their interaction with the ‘delivery company’.  An all out effort to streamline the supply chain down to redefining the design of the delivery truck, are underway.  Ultimately, consistent and reliable order fulfillment and delivery are imperative to any successful e-commerce retailer’s sustainability – especially in the competitive U.S. market.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

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(Source: Alix Partners, LLP article: “Final-Mile Delivery: What Do Online Shoppers Want? And How Should Retailers and Their Logistics Partners Respond?”)

(Source: Truck/Body Builder, “How the shipping model of e-commerce is impacting truck body and trailer manufacturers –the ‘Amazon effect’ of fast, free shipping re-routes truck body/trailer builders’ thinking”.)