As e-commerce sales account for more and more retail revenue each year, shipping and logistics firms are feeling the pressure to meet the expedited turnaround times expected by today’s online shoppers. As more sales mean more items need to be shipped, the trucking industry has been struggling to find drivers to accommodate the increased shipping demand. This shift presents a unique opportunity for job candidates looking to begin their career as commercial drivers.
Forrester, a leading research firm, projects 17 percent of all U.S. retail sales will move online by 2022. That’s because foot traffic in stores is decreasing due to the convenience and efficiency of purchasing products online. In fact, because of the expedited shipping practices of online retail giants like Amazon, a majority of online consumers expect to receive their packages free of charge within two days of a purchase.
A report from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) says more than 70 percent of goods consumed in the U.S. are moved by truck. As online sales continue to increase, it will likely become harder for trucking fleets to meet the demand for expedited deliveries until they increase their hiring efforts. According to the ATA, the trucking industry needs to hire around 900,000 more drivers in order to meet the shipping demand.
The primary reasons for the current drivers shortage are two-fold: the rapidly aging crop of current drivers and an underwhelming number of female drivers entering in the profession. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average age for a truck driver is around fifty-five, younger generations are not as interested in the idea of becoming a commercial truck driver. It is also estimated that only six percent of all commercial truck drivers are women. That said, the industry has thus far managed to keep up with such a high demand with such a low number of drivers, though some are dubious as to how long this strain can last.
Because of the expected two-day delivery for online orders, many commercial carriers have begun to dispatch their drivers with double trailers that can carry twice the amount of freight, which reduces the need to make multiple trips with one driver, or use multiple drivers. Some companies have even looked to new GPS software that will be able to calculate the fastest route, analyze traffic updates, and be able to send accurate estimated time of arrival notifications to the recipients of the delivery.
With modern technology and innovative thinking, this challenge isn’t something that the shipping industry won’t be able to handle. As shipping firms begin to ramp up their hiring efforts to meeting increased shipping demands, career opportunities for aspiring drivers should be plentiful in the coming years.