ATLANTA— Mark Eaves has been a tractor-trailer truck driver for 13 years. Lately, though, he is more like your UPS man on steroids.
On a typical recent day, he throttled his semi-truck through the narrow streets of Gwinnett County, Ga., subdivisions, avoiding yard crews and children on bikes, until he reached the delivery he dreaded most: a 238-pound gun cabinet ordered online from Gander Mountain.
He parked on the street and single-handedly got the load out of his truck, balancing it while lowering by hydraulic lift. Then—per his customer’s wishes—he pulled it up a hill and around back where his hand-powered forklift (called a pallet jack) got stuck in mud. At that point, Mr. Eaves tipped the box on its end and muscled it the rest of the way to her patio.
A continuing series on how changes in Americans’ shopping habits are forcing big shifts across retail and other industries.
A seismic change in the way Americans are shopping is affecting everything from how, when and where they make purchases to whether they pay with credit cards or mobile clicks. The transformation is rocking retail and shipping and rippling through real estate, banking and tech.
It is also roiling trucking, which is caught in a tug-of-war with shippers and parcel carriers over who should pay for the true price of delivering e-commerce, especially the ever-bigger items consumers are ordering. As they struggle with unanticipated costs, truckers are weighing whether to specialize, partner or ratchet up prices, which would pressure shippers and maybe consumers.