The Logistics Industry in the Post-COVID19 Era – Part One
As Logistics Service providers are forced to switch modalities in the face of the audacious reality of the global pandemic, one thing is certain, issues like social distancing, innovation, adaptability, the need to restructure human, technological and financial resources will be keenly considered as front liners of what many refer to as the “new normal.”
Though it’s not so simple to predict the full-scale realities of the post-COVID 19 era, the world will certainly never remain the same again. The case for digitization will become stronger. Delivery modalities and established work cultures will be redefined and as it stands, IT-enabled responsiveness to customer requests will be a stronger KPI for measuring efficiency, much more than the seamless flow of routine processes.
While it may not be possible to establish an accurate picture of the post-COVID 19 era, the following appear to be the most probable outcome for the logistics industry:
Flexible Working Arrangement: For many years before now, Human Resource experts have extensively analyzed the potential benefits and limitations of flex-working and the current luck-down has demonstrated that working from remote locations – even homes, can also be as productive as being physically present in the office from 8am-5 or 6pm daily. Consequently, remote work policies may become the ‘new normal’ and in response to this reality, companies may now begin to fashion their support and IT systems to align with the realities of the ‘new normal’ largely prompted by social distancing and less need for individuals to work in large clusters.
Cargo Surge: Port terminals and warehouses are full to the brim because of limited pick-up activities due to the COVID 19 lock-down. Ships waiting to berth at the ports and huge cargo backlogs from the origin will also precipitate cargo surge and the capacity to handle these surges will become a competitive advantage. 3PL providers will seek strategic partnerships to shore up areas of limited capacity but at the same time capacity crunch will further deepen the woes of marginal industry players. Players with the capacity to speedily deliver huge volumes and make effective charter arrangements for large number of urgent cargoes will become more dominant. The boys will be separated from the men and those with hardly any requisite resources to cope with the pressure will either be forced to thinner market shares or be swept aside completely.
IT/Technological Innovations as Key Drivers:
The most innovative technological solutions offer the greatest visibility and flow of information between Logistics Service Providers and their customers. The role of IT in providing flexible, real-time, and contactless solutions to customers will be pivotal and indispensable. Tech innovations, hitherto referred to as disruptors will be considered as key enablers and the case for more investment in technological leverages like the Internet of Things (IOTs), self-delivery vehicles, delivery drones and widespread deployment of robots in warehouses will become even stronger. Consequently, industry players would have to restructure their IT systems to adapt to the realities of the post-COVID 19 era.
In conclusion, the diverse nature of the logistics industry makes it quite difficult to generalize what the industry will look like post-COVID 19. The end of this era will be closely followed by a thorough assessment of all that the global pandemic threw at us; its impact on the logistics industry, individual players in different industry segments all over the world, lessons learnt and a holistic view of the resources required to adapt to the demands of the post-COVID 19 era. And this will form the crux of our article in part two.