If there was any doubt this time last year, it no longer remains questionable whether a new virus causing COVID-19 will have a serious impact on our world. From economic fallout to unexpected side effects of the disease, it’s an issue that we’ll probably be discussing for years to come. But how has it impacted trucking and logistics? Has it created a new home-based society, or has it simply accelerated the trend that was already in motion in our country and around the world? How will it continue to impact these industries in the upcoming years?
What Lingering Impact Will COVID-19 Continue to Have on Trucking and Logistics?
As the pandemic caused significant issues with children learning at home, adults working from home and stay-at-home orders minimizing traffic on the roads, trucking and logistics companies saw rapid, unplanned shifts in distribution patterns. Consider how many people, as an example, were using institutional and commercial toilet paper during the day. With all of those people suddenly staying home, a rapid supply chain shift took weeks to catch up with demand, as production facilities needed to change the type of product they were producing and where it was being shipped for distribution. This created something of a crisis for many households.
Another area where there was a significant shift in supply chain logistics was the change from consumers going to store to shop for household and personal items to suddenly ordering these items to be shipped to home, a shift which left last-mile providers hunting for drivers and trucks to get all the orders where they needed to go. A similar pattern was seen around the holidays, traditionally a very busy time for parcel companies, which saw a strong upsurge in services demand as families stayed home rather than taking presents with them for the season.
To a certain extent, digital transformation was moving us in this direction to begin with, just not as quickly as what we’ve seen with the additional pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. People had begun using a range of services, such as Amazon Prime, to have items shipped to their homes for years before anyone had even heard of COVID-19. However, these services saw a 60% increase during the worst parts of the pandemic, which caused serious strain on the system. The question that remains is whether we will return to more traditional logistics and supply chain fulfillment once the pandemic has died down.
As consumers and business professionals have adapted to these new ways to get the items they need for daily life, an expectation has developed that these services will continue to provide a convenient way to avoid spending unnecessary time in the stores. Much like fast food, which started out as an alternative for meals for busy families on the go, the uptick in e-commerce and pickup services will almost certainly continue long into the future. Families that have developed a rhythm during the crisis that has allowed them to spend more quality time together may choose to continue working or schooling from home, providing an ongoing source of growth for consumer lines that were being taken over by commercial and institutional product lines.
These changes are, in many cases, here for the long term and will require updates across the entire distribution and supply chain system. At Road Scholar Transport, we understand that our customers need us to stay on top of changes in our industry so that their expectations are exceeded. How is your business handling these shifts in your supply and delivery chain? If you’re ready to work with a trucking company that understands your pain points, please contact us today to learn more.