The past year-plus has been the most difficult most can remember. From lockdowns to supply shortages to working from home offices, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted personal and professional lives, and parcel shipping and logistics are no exception.
Now, as vaccines slowly make their way to people globally, the world inches toward the end of this dark time and a brighter future.
While many things will go back to normal—or as close to normal as they can—many things will continue post-pandemic.
Being prepared to move into a new normal will take a unique combination of hindsight and foresight. Knowing what you’ll need to know by looking at where we’ve been is a key to finding success. Here are six shipping shifts during the heights of the pandemic that we see carrying on long after things go back to normal post-pandemic.
eCommerce and Omnichannel Fulfillment
While eCommerce was on the climb pre-pandemic, the lockdowns of the last year added fuel to the global online shopping fire. As we emerge, all signs point to the continued growth of consumers shopping without leaving home, even if they can.
In 2020, retail eCommerce sales worldwide amounted to USD 4.28 trillion, and e-tail revenues are projected to grow to 5.4 trillion USD in 2022, according to Statista.
Of course, the new opportunities retailers, eCommerce players, and the 3PLs that work with them are seeing from the boost to online shopping come with some challenges.
Retailers are helping to meet customers’ demands for free and fast shipping while keeping costs in check by engaging an omnichannel shipping strategy. By transitioning from centralized warehouses or distribution centers, retailers are utilizing regional and local shipping points, including ship-from-store utilizing storefronts that may not be seeing the same traffic today to ensure items get to customers quickly and cost-effectively.
The Increase in D2C Shipping
As retailers and eCommerce sites are experiencing a bump in online sales, so are manufacturers that have typically sold and shipped wholesale B2B shipments more regularly. The shift from B2B to D2C shipping—along with the retail boom—has also seen more third-party logistics providers (3PLs) joining the retail omnichannel shipping flow.
This shift in their traditional operations from pallets and containers to individual parcels or “eaches” has left some scrambling to assimilate and manage smaller, more frequent shipments to consumers’ homes. However, those that quickly adapt and deliver an exceptional D2C customer shipping experience will be the ones that are successful in the new shipping landscape.
A Diverse Multi-Carrier Network
As the carrier capacity crunch took hold during the pandemic and the past holiday season, shippers that were reliant on one or maybe even a few carriers found themselves with orders they couldn’t get into the hands of customers. Those who were able to utilize and manage a diverse multi-carrier base of national, regional, and local parcel carriers could not only get their shipments into the hands of customers. However, if utilizing a multi-carrier parcel management solution, shippers can find the best carrier for the job at the best price all in one shipping platform.
However, there are some potential pitfalls as shippers and 3PLs turn to a more local delivery network to help packages get to customers more quickly from omnichannel fulfillment locations, such as ship-from-store, that can be anywhere in the world.
Customers still have soaring expectations for their deliveries to arrive quickly and in good condition as part of their shopping experience. This is becoming even more difficult as more local delivery companies are formed to help meet the growing demand, especially those under the independent gig delivery model.
Sustainable Packing and Shipping Options, Including Cartonization to Reduce Waste
Increasingly, part of the consumer delivery experience is receiving sustainable and frustration-free packaging and are making their purchasing decisions based partly on this.
Research from Truvium Packaging showed that nearly three-quarters of consumers would pay more for sustainable packaging—with almost 25% willing to pay 10% or more for it.
Even when using more traditional packaging, shippers that utilize a multi-carrier parcel shipping solution with AI-powered cartonization technology can help increase their sustainable shipping endeavors. Packing cartons more efficiently, reducing the need for wasteful fill and extra cardboard from too big boxes for the item or items can reduce waste. At the same time, they can see a reduction in dimensional weight fees (DIM) and be squeezed out of deliveries by overcrowded carriers.
Working from Home Offices
As millions get the long-anticipated vaccination and slowly emerge from the various stages of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders of the past year, many of them are commuting to cubicles and offices. However, many continue to work from home offices either full-time or in a hybrid model even with the return.
Sure, there will be fewer employees working from home than at the height of the pandemic—many companies still have leased or owned office spaces they are paying for—but it is expected that more will be working from home than before the pandemic.
According to a survey reported in Crain’s Chicago Business, in the United States, 20% of full workdays will be from home after the pandemic, compared with just 5% before. The study also says there will be a 5% bump to productivity at the same time.
While technology advancements make doing business remotely more accessible than ever, for those workdays, there will still be a need to ship physical items even when spending time in the home office.
At the same time, employees will continue shipping personal items to friends and families whether they are in the office or not. In fact, some may have already gone rogue shipping on the company dime, whether you know it or not.
It could be a gift for grandma or a vinyl record sold on an internet marketplace. But whatever it is, shipping it can hit a company’s resources. Maybe they are shipping on the company account and having you foot the bill. Or they may have to lug granny’s new slippers to a retail shipping location and wait on a slow-moving line, taking time away from the organization.
Using a personal shipping app can help save the company money and share the same discounted rates as the company has with carriers can help the employees save money while giving them a valuable perk at the same time.
While 2021 is shaping up to be a turn toward better days, the lessons learned, and trends started during the pandemic are bound to influence the shipping and logistics space for years to come. Book a demonstration today to see how Transtream multi-carrier parcel management solution can help you manage your enterprise shipping.