Back in the spring, EASE provided our partners with some practical tips for dealing with shutdowns, resources for assistance, and general tips for managing uncertainty during the early days of COVID-19. Now that we’re more than six months in, we wanted to check back in and provide some advice that is more forward-looking.
It’s no surprise that experts predicted a slow recovery from the disruption and chaos caused by the 2020 pandemic. But history has taught us that having a positive attitude, a disciplined and tactical approach, as well as the ability to adapt, will be the differentiators for those who will not only survive but thrive.
To help give our partners a competitive edge, here are some trends that we are seeing regarding moving toward recovery.
Varied and Staggered Recoveries
It is likely that some commodities, like agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and cement, are likely to return to growth faster than others, such as coal, automotive, appliances, and textiles. Of course, some sectors, like e-commerce and last-mile delivery, are experiencing unprecedented surges due to the specific needs and demands generated during the pandemic. But even they will need to adjust their focus in order to predict what’s ahead more accurately. For example, if you historically serve industries that are slower to recover, you may need to plan to grow your business in other areas. Conversely, if you serve industries that will experience a surge, you might need to invest in certain areas to keep up with demand.
Preparing for Other Supply Chain Risks
Pre-COVID-19, when industry experts spoke of risks to the supply chain, they considered things like trade disputes, natural disasters, or cyberattacks. The truth is, risks are growing at a faster pace than before, and it is difficult to say where or when the next disruption could happen. While disruptions like this are outside our control, there are two things that companies can do right now to be better prepared:
- Identify vulnerabilities
- What is the state of your relationships with suppliers (are your contractual terms mutually beneficial?)
- How flexible is your procurement process (not only the product but in its transport and storage)?
- How up-to-date are you regarding news of factors—economic, social, governmental, or environmental—that you can plan for?
- Identify where you lack visibility
- Do you have adequate technology to regularly adjust to interruptions that might leave you with too much or not enough inventory at the end of each day?
- Does the data you gather provide enough insight to ensure you’re not guessing when forecasting?
- How well do you know your partners? The more visibility you have into who you do business with will help ensure that they appropriately align with your values.
Crisis Yields New Opportunities
While we have experienced a global health crisis before, it has been a long time since one has caused such chaos. What we are seeing, however, is that there are nuances of the current situation that are creating opportunities for those willing to seize them — for instance:
- Entering new markets not considered before
- Offering new services
- Identifying “pockets of growth” into sectors not previously considered
All three of these could help you establish and grow a presence in a sector that wasn’t previously available.
What This Means for You
In general, the transportation industry is not one that is easily disrupted, as things (even in a pandemic) always need to go from here to there. Given the ability to make accurate predictions, strategize, be flexible, and follow a plan to its final destination, the logistics industry is better positioned than most to rebound in ways others simply cannot.
That said, given the still-unknown long-term effects of this pandemic, it seems most practical for organizations to create plans for an “intermediate” phase of operation. As companies of all types gain a steadier foothold in their supply chain, freight and logistics will follow suit to support this need. According to current trends, less-than-truckload (LTL) and full-truckload (FTL) are the shipping methods that are more likely to recover more quickly than air or ocean transport. This may sound obvious, but a shift in perspective can help keep you focused on the job at hand.
Through the uncertainty, EASE is here to help pull you through. We thrive on facing the unexpected head-on and have the expertise, capacity, and the drive to follow through.
Don’t forget to download our digital contact card as a quick and convenient reference when you need our services in a rush.