AUSTIN. Truckload carriers have something to look forward to in the near term but, in looking a little further down the road, a leading industry analyst tosses around terms like “decimate,” “destroy,” “profound impact,” “seismic changes,” and, the kicker, “the whole world is going to turn upside down."

First some good news from Thom Albrecht, a long-time Wall Street analyst who is now president of Sword & Sea Transport Advisors, a transportation consulting firm. Speaking at the Transplace Shipper Symposium here this week, Albrecht forecast the excess truckload capacity that started building in 2015 should have run its course by early fall.

But “equilibrium” does not mean a quick rebound to 2014 conditions. “The intense rate pressure should begin to reflect a more stable market supply environment,” Albrecht said.

He also anticipates that 2018 and 2019 “will feel good” to truckers. But carriers shouldn’t get too used to the good times, because a lot of truckload demand is going away and never coming back, he explained, thanks largely to Amazon and the e-commerce revolution in retail. 

Albrecht used "the flywheel effect" to characterize the growth of e-commerce: "It's something that’s big and slow to get going, but once it gets going it becomes self-sustaining."

To illustrate, he pointed to Amazon's 47% growth in the sale of cosmetics last year—compared to 2% growth for the industry overall. "They're going to decimate traditional cosmetics sales venues," he noted. Similarly, Amazon sold $7 billion in housewares last year, 33% growth compared to 9% for the industry. Amazon's health and personal care business likewise grew five times faster than the industry as a whole.

And just this month Amazon will host a "mega" consumer products and food summit in Seattle, at which the company is expected to tell major suppliers, "we want you to bet your distribution capabilities on us," Albrecht explained to the audience—one that featured many such manufacturers.

“'You don't need Kroger, you don't need Walmart, you don't need Target, or Costco,' whatever," he said of Amazon's pitch, then clarified, "of course, they're not going to do that—but they're going to explore how they can sell more products through Amazon."