The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the logistics industry out of the shadows and towards the forefront. With shops and offices closed and travel restrictions imposed, logistics firms became the primary vessel linking businesses to customers. Now that the world is set to welcome a post-pandemic world, many wonder how shippers and logistics companies can adapt and further shine in the wake of a global crisis.
How the Pandemic Changed the Logistics Industry: A Quick Review
The logistics industry is undoubtedly one of the hardest-hit sectors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While delivery of goods became widely needed, travel restrictions and lockdowns put considerable challenges and pressure on logistics companies. To make matters worse, businesses from different industries permanently closed. All these factors dramatically disrupted the distribution flow on a global scale. To facilitate trade, logistics firms were left with no choice but to come up with emergency strategies on the spot.
In less than a year, different logistics trends emerged in response to the pandemic. Companies engaged in getting and moving products turned to dual-sourcing. At the same time, extreme efforts were made to facilitate local production and minimize reliance on international logistics. Additional warehousing capacity also became necessary.
Now that vaccines are on the rollout and restrictions slowly relax, many expect that the pandemic is nearing its end. At the same time, the future of logistics becomes a public wonder. Can shipping and storing firms further improve their efficiency in the face of yet another “new normal”?
How Should Logistics Firms Perform in the Post-COVID-19 World
Provide shipment traceability
The COVID-19 pandemic is a time of great uncertainty. From the indefinite lockdown to shrinking resources, many factors triggered anxiety among consumers. Sadly, these concerns are expected to stay even after the pandemic. Since the COVID-19 outbreak introduced decades-long worth of transformations in less than a year, problems on resources and distribution are likely to burden consumers for years to come.
In turn, logistics businesses must invest in shipment tracking technology to provide customers with shipment traceability services. Doing so will keep customers out of the anxiety hole. To date, many tracking innovations, such as PassTime GPS devices, enable people to get a real-time update of where exactly their products are in the distribution chain.
Invest in Route Planning Software
Customers aren’t just concerned about how their parcels are doing. They’re more curious about whether their order will arrive on time. While it’s good to provide them with real-time updates on where in the world their orders are at the moment, it’s important to make sure that they won’t wait too long before the products arrive at their doorsteps. After all, shipment traceability can only provide them a sense of security, not additional patience.
That’s why aside from trackers, routine planning applications are also on the rise among logistics businesses. Specifically, these innovations help businesses identify the most efficient route to secure on-time delivery of items. Some applications come with detailed analytics, such as live traffic and weather updates, to help companies identify the best route to dispatch their drivers, reduce fuel costs, and minimize risk operations.
The pandemic has disrupted international supply channels. Consequently, this disruption left many businesses who rely on suppliers abroad vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak. Products that were manufactured in China were tough to access due to health concerns and trade tension.
To avoid the same problem from burdening logistics companies in the future, many firms are trying to diversify their list of suppliers. Instead of relying on a single source, they now come prepared with alternative partners near demand centers. Efforts to localize the supply chain are also practiced to avoid possible logistics problems when another pandemic strikes.
Shops and customers ditched the traditional market practices to embrace remote transactions. Naturally, all their efforts will be in vain if third-party logistics companies maintain close physical contact during the delivery and collection processes. To ensure safety among customers and shippers, many businesses now practice a contactless delivery approach.
Basically, this means the delivery agent will manage, store, or deliver an item without physical interactions with customers. There are different strategies to maintain a touchless delivery. Some companies instruct their delivery agents to leave the goods at the doorstep of the customers. Other firms invest in an automated mailroom where all parties involved can leave items in a designated area without close contact with each other.
Post-pandemic and beyond
Logistics providers were introduced to a new set of challenges and opportunities amid the pandemic. As the world prepares to welcome yet another “new normal” after the crisis, logistics companies are expected to adapt and keep up with the needs of businesses and customers.