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Impact of COVID-19 on the Logistics Industry and Recovery Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted more than 200 countries across the world, creating an unprecedented state of looming uncertainty and a consequent, drastic economic slowdown. The logistics and freight industry has been on the frontline since the beginning of this global crisis, ensuring that shelves remain stocked up and supply chains are not disrupted.

However, with various economic activities forced to come to a halt and restrictions imposed on the movement of goods, businesses and industries have been severely impacted. The logistics industry is among the worst hit, and numerous challenges including the lockdown of cities and restriction of movement have adversely affected global trade and supply chain.

Myriad Challenges

In the wake of COVID-19, various facets of the logistics industry like shipping, warehousing, and last-mile delivery are facing severe challenges. Limitations to airfreight have proven to be a huge hurdle, as the halt of international flights and air travel has led to a deferred slowdown in the movement of goods and a reduced airfreight capacity.

Though not completely, the shipping sector has also been adversely affected as vessels are often placed under quarantine for weeks before being allowed into ports. This slows down the process of shipping, resulting in longer turnaround periods, and containers often get stuck at ports and in transit at state borders.

Another major hurdle is the disruption in supply chain impacting last-mile delivery. The transport, especially last-mile delivery, of essential commodities and other manufactured goods is delayed due to the many checks at state borders. There is also a shortage of manpower as companies lay off employees to cut back on expenses, which further adds to inefficiency and delay in procurement and delivery of goods.

Additionally, the gap in demand and supply has widened considerably since the outbreak of the pandemic, especially in the case of essential commodities. With offline markets almost completely non-functional, the online market is witnessing an unprecedented spike in demand. The delay in procurement of goods, unexpected transit halts, and shortage of manpower further widen the demand and supply gap.

Feasible Solutions

Players in the logistics industry are striving to come up with constructive and feasible solutions to ease the difficulties associated with the pandemic and its consequent economic slowdown. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges that the marketplace is facing today, logistics firms like Gxpress Solutions are focusing on preparing their businesses for greater efficiency and resilience.

Response centres or teams are important to ensure resiliency in times of crises and must be created within organisations to monitor, asses, plan and react to new challenges. Costs must be controlled while aiming for maximum productivity — firms like Gxpress have moved to consolidated shipping, which entails combining shipments from multiple shippers into one container. Consolidated shipping helps in optimising supply chain logistics by saving time and reducing cost. Gxpress is also working towards extending this strategy of consolidation to airfreight, for when air travel starts opening up again.

Furthermore, Gxpress provides warehousing solutions to sellers by shipping and storing goods till they are collected by sellers, and this helps reduce disruptions in supply chain in these times of increased demand. As customers increasingly shift to online orders and deliveries, logistic capabilities are becoming all the more significant.

Lastly, the escalating scale of the COVID-19 crisis warrants for continuous and timely monitoring, assessment and prudent decision making by companies. The world is going through an unprecedented change — the future may be as far removed from ‘business as usual’ as one can imagine; and while it is impossible to make reliable predictions in these uncertain times, firms must use this period to self-evaluate and work towards greater resilience and efficiency.