Online shopping is at an all-time high. Last year’s Black Friday weekend, 108.5 million Americans shopped online versus just 99.1 million in stores. By 2020, the number of online shoppers in the U.S. is expected to hit 270 million – symbolizing a big change in the trucking industry.
With more online shoppers comes a massive spike in freight. Analysts predict ecommerce shipments will expand four times faster than the U.S. economy, and more workers are needed to fill shipping orders. Trucking fleets and carriers used to see heavier cargo loads in the summer and fall as stores prepared for holidays, but now instead of stocking stores, companies increasingly stock warehouses to cater to the influx of online shoppers.
Ecommerce is a huge opportunity for fleet growth, but it also presents a new world of challenges. To meet demands more efficiently and distinguish themselves from the competition, carriers and fleets must use advanced telematics and GPS fleet solutions.
The most important question for fleet managers taking advantage of ecommerce growth and shipping demand is, “How can I complete more jobs in a day?” Cross-border shipments are especially important to keep in mind as consumers from all over buy online and more warehouses crop up to meet the demand. Efficient routing is more essential than ever, and carriers and fleets that optimize their routes best will fulfill the most jobs.
GPS vehicle tracking helps drivers optimize their routes to fit in more deliveries in a shorter amount of time. GPS tracking and routing tools let fleet managers map the quickest route and send to the driver in real-time. They can also point drivers to the most critical business areas, vital for competing in the growing and demanding sub-segment of the ecommerce industry. Another way fleet managers make use of this technology is by locating drivers closest to a certain delivery spot and choosing them to complete the job. By optimizing drivers already on the road, fleets maximize resources.
Free shipping perks are expected at this point because consumers want more, for less and faster. To differentiate, ecommerce retailers desire more time-specific services, starting with quick deliveries to warehouses to begin the cycle. Fuel inefficiencies are a massively important factor in poor delivery timing.
Believe it or not, 20-40 percent of a typical line haul fleet’s time is spent idling – and all of that time is fuel wasted. Inefficient drivers burn as much as 20 percent more fuel than a fleet’s best driver. With GPS tracking, fleet managers can pinpoint fuel use inefficiencies and correct them before they’re hit with a hefty fuel bill. These inefficiencies include needless idling, poorly maintained vehicles, indirect routing and unsafe driving habits, such as speeding and harsh acceleration. The good news is that it’s all preventable.
Recording these behaviors lets fleet managers gauge just how much fuel is wasted and why. Some GPS tracking solutions collect travel distance, average speed and fuel used within select dates to zero in on an individual vehicle’s fuel inefficiencies. Just because the ecommerce market isn’t slowing down doesn’t mean drivers can’t – an excess of fuel is a lost resource that could have been profit.
Drivers need to utilize their time properly to spend more of it on the road making deliveries (and money). More deliveries mean more hours on the road, and as ecommerce sales rise, carriers and fleets must be extra vigilant toward hours of service compliance. Manual administrative tasks like recording hours of service can take drivers up to 110 hours a year on paper.
Not only do GPS tracking tools track driving time, they also track non-driving time – much quicker than with pen and paper. This makes it easy for drivers to stay well within compliance requirements. Time management data includes on-and-off engine time, lunch breaks, daily log on and log off times and more, which can be hugely important in preventing fines. Storing these metrics in a GPS fleet tracking system can give fleet managers the full picture on which drivers are within compliance and which are in danger of exceeding their driving hours.
And with drivers working long hours on the road to meet the new ecommerce demand, penalties are a very real danger. By optimizing time management, carriers and fleets will make more deliveries and save themselves from fines, meaning more money left over to put back into growing their organization.
Played right, the rise in ecommerce sales provides an excellent opportunity for fleets and carriers to grow. Played wrong, they suffer, be it through inefficient routing, high fuel costs or a waste of precious time. As fleets and carriers look to evolve, the ecommerce industry offers a path to success, but only if they know how to turn its challenges into a competitive edge. GPS fleet solutions offset these risks, and implementing them offers carriers the tools to take advantage of the changing retail and trucking landscape.