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Every system the global markets have in place was pushed to the limit in 2020. The logistics industry was no exception to that.
At the time of this writing, it is the mid-spring of 2021, and as an industry, we’ve already overcome enormous logistical hurdles in a few short months. A majority of those hurdles were in relation to getting COVID-19 vaccines shipped around from place to place in an effort to get vaccines in the hands of as many as possible. Millions of doses of vaccine have been packaged, maintained in various controlled temperature units (as sensitive as shipping produce), transported, and distributed accordingly.
In addition to all of the vaccine hurdles, most businesses in the U.S. pivoted to work from home models to further counter the COVID virus. In turn, this created more challenges for shipping companies in a large variety of ways.
But as we move forward into summer 2021, and the pandemic stretches on, how will the logistics industry fare?
Let’s take a look at 2 of the biggest things that you can expect to see carried through the upcoming summer season...
Many businesses were forced to adopt work from home practices in 2020, and this trend shows no signs of stopping. While some customers prefer in-store shopping, many customers are reporting an increased desire to utilize e-commerce simply due to the ability to shop around for a while before settling on the best price.
For individuals in the logistics industry, this means that they will need to adapt to the changing climate and move toward a more digital model for their business if they haven’t made this transition already. Many companies are even now beginning to really leverage their social media presence as well.
This shift toward digitization and e-commerce is happening for a variety of reasons, two of which we will outline below:
Many customers now expect to be able to sign onto a website, click the desired product, define the desired quantity, place their order, and be done with the whole process within a few minutes, and without having to communicate in person with a representative. If there are any issues, generally the customer will simply move on to the next company. It is a bit of a double-edged sword in this way and the ability to have options at their fingertips, this makes competition a bit fierce.
This is now the standard, and logistics industry professionals that aren’t keeping up with this trend will need to quickly adapt if they want to make it through the rest of the year on an incline.
While some businesses plan to, or need to resume in-person operations as soon as possible, others have seen great value in using a work-from-home model in the long term. This poses logistical hurdles as small deliveries are now made to individuals’ homes rather than large deliveries being packaged together on a pallet and all of them going to one business or building.
Companies now need to juggle rising the cost of delivery and determine how best to overcome pricing changes due to work from home models. This is not just a logistics industry problem, however, so we fully expect to see the industry adapting tips and tricks from other markets and applying them.
It’s now been roughly a year since COVID 19 entered our lives, and there are no signs that the virus will be leaving us any time soon. Vaccine distribution is well underway at this point, but by most estimates, we still have a long way to go to provide the vaccine to all that want it. Whether or not this virus is controlled may also be irrelevant, if other viruses start cropping up next year. There’s no telling what the future holds, but we need to be ready no matter what.
Outside of vaccine considerations, COVID 19 has impacted the logistics industry significantly in terms of border and travel restrictions.
Having said that, things are slowly improving, but there continue to be restrictions on imports and exports through many countries around the world. This has forced a logistical shift in supply chains in which different countries that are closer in proximity have established supply chains that ordinarily may have gone through a different route (i.e. the US partnering more heavily with Mexico in trading than we do with China, as used to be the case).
It’s a difficult proposition to predict exactly what will happen as we move toward the summer of 2021. However, it seems clear that all businesses will need to shift heavily toward e-commerce and digitization in general, if they haven’t already, as some restrictions due to the coronavirus don’t appear to be going away any time soon.
Logistics providers who were hesitant to move toward a more digital model will need to quickly move in that direction in order to keep up with the trends. Those who were already implementing methods to keep up with the trends towards digitization are likely very happy that they did so, as now their adjustments moving forward will simply be refining and streamlining the digitized models they already have in place.
If there is one thing that 2020 proved, it’s that we need to be ready for anything, no matter what field we work in. Adaptability is going to be a key trait for businesses as we move toward the summer of 2021.
Do you have summer shipping needs? Drop us a line today to learn how Redwood can help you navigate this summer's freight terrain.