This year has turned out to be one of the most inopportune years of the century because of the pandemic, the loss of lives and livelihood and the debilitating economic scenario around the globe. The upheaval because of the Coronavirus resulted in a temporary halt of transportation and shipping processes and several sectors including warehousing, manufacturing, transportation, procurement, delivery etc. bore the brunt of the lockdown. The logistics industry was required to function at a limited capacity but nevertheless, it continued to be operational all through the crisis. The situation still has not stabilized even in the last quarter of the year and as Christmas is drawing near, the freight forwarders need to be become super agile and start preparations to counter the challenges of lockdown and limited personnel.
How the multinationals are preparing
The top players in the market suck as UPS, FedEX, or Amazon have long back started preparing for the peak season by recruiting new employees for handling the Christmas logistics rush. UPS has hired 100k seasonal workers to get ready for the seasonal rush. FedEx had taken in a record number of part-time workers (75k) so as to strengthen their e-commerce business during the year ending. They are also in the process of expansion of FexEx Ground’s network capacity and widening the reach of their Direct Freight Service. Amazon has taken in 100,000 workers and has constructed 100 new buildings throughout its fulfilment and delivery network. They are also about to impose extra duties (ranging between $1- $3 per package) for their customers in the United States.
What the small and mid-sized businesses should do
In goes without saying that the small and the independent freight forwarders need to keep pace with the stalwarts for ensuring a constant flow of goods, making timely deliveries and lowering the bottom-line risks. Let us now talk about a number of proven methods that will help the SMBs to cope with the rising workload of the festive season. In this context, it is important to remember that 2020 is a special year when even the biggest corporations like Walmart or Amazon were not able to make timely deliveries due to the lockdown, dearth of workforce, and disruption of transportation facilities. Therefore your clients are surely going to be more considerate about the deadline given the special circumstances in which we are forced to work. However, there are still several steps you should take in order to keep your customers satisfied.
Visibility or transparency in the supply chain sector is a much-discussed topic of our time and in the absence of visibility, your customers are going to choose the service of your competitor. In order to boost your visibility, you need to ask for honest upfront information from all the stakeholders of the project. Try to get correct and updated information about any upcoming crisis to prepare beforehand and create contingency plans.
Proper communication with your team is absolutely important for making timely deliveries during the peak season. To this end, you need to make clear communications with every element of your team plus your customers and suppliers as frequently as needed. If there is any kind of change in plans then make sure to communicate at your earliest and clearly explain the situation to all concerned parties. This will definitely keep your clients from becoming anxious.
Constant coordination with all the stakeholders
You can do this by closely coordinating with your carriers, customers, customs officer, warehousing staff and any other stakeholder in the process. Start by finding out whether the factories in your city have become fully operational, if the ports where you will send your cargo are functioning normally or if the truck drivers of your partners are now back on the roads.
Take advantage of the available data
The emerging data regarding the trends of this year are going to be of great help in the field of planning and forecasting. Just because this year didn’t go as smoothly as foreseen doesn’t mean that you should undervalue the importance of data and analytics. Even though the forecasts might not always come true, they will surely allow you to keep a plan and work accordingly.
Boost your e-commerce services
E-commerce is the rising trend of our industry and many independent freight forwarders are immensely benefitting by strengthening their e-commerce activities. In 2020 most consumers are shopping from their homes instead of heading to the malls and this is why we suggest a strong emphasis and enhancement of your e-commerce offerings.