The coronavirus pandemic has thrown us into the deep end of an economic dilemma felt across the globe. Several industries have been severely impacted by nations shutting their borders as well as imposing lockdowns across the length and breadth of the country.
With the pandemic going on at the full swing even after three months and cases only rising instead of reducing, every sector is feeling the heat of this new normal.
In all possible ways, much like most other economic avenues in the world, the growth of the logistics industry also seems to have come to a screeching halt.
Clampdown On E-Commerce Deliveries
The coronavirus pandemic has raised serious concerns for safety and hygiene across industries, which means that there is a need to employ multiple levels of checks at different points of the logistics chain.
Given the vastness of this crisis and the suddenness of its onslaught, it was quite difficult for many companies, especially e-commerce services, to introduce these measures from the very start.
With a complete lockdown that was introduced across countries, it also meant that movement of goods and order delivery was not possible when fleet movement as well as general air, road, and rail transport was restricted save for essential services.
Given this situation, major e-commerce players, which generally have fleet gps tracking and other state-of-the-art facilities imbibed in their logistical chains, have now suspended orders and all other operations.
Fearing contamination, both platforms and customers had stopped either accepting new orders or shipments even before the actual lockdown leading to a considerable decline in fulfillment percentage.
This severely affected the trucking industry as this would indicate that a reduced volume of shipments corroborate to a reduced number of fleet requirements, making it difficult for logistics businesses to operate at full capacity.
Even as the lockdown is eased and e-commerce businesses start shipping their orders, the impact of the past few months will have a lasting effect on the logistics services.
Impact on the Logistics Industry
The logistics industry is a majorly unorganized sector without proper plans for the future, disaster mitigation, and legitimate associations. Many of the providers work as individual entities and as private owners leaving them especially vulnerable in times of a crisis.
This sector has also been mostly untouched by the modern innovations and technological advancements that have been seen in most other industries. It still primarily operates with the traditional approach of trucking, loading, unloading, and material handling.
Giving this basic state of the industry, expecting the handlers and the truckers to maintain proper sanitary measures in the amidst a pandemic to ensure that the goods are not contaminated might be a huge ask.
For major players in the sector, this might still be fathomable and easy to navigate around. However, for individual owners of transport businesses or smaller players, the current pandemic might be posing a challenge that would further set them back from recovery and demand more investments.
The State of the Economy
It is no surprise that the pandemic has not been kind to the country’s economy and its manufacturing industry. The nationwide lockdown that was imposed made sure that everything was brought to a stop for close to 2 months.
This did not spare the manufacturing industry, which, in turn, had its adverse effect on the supply chain industry. The simple logic for this was that if nothing is manufactured, what could be transported?
The entire supply chain has, hence, been facing a complete stagnation. From the factories to the consumers, the whole range of operations is expected to be subject to hygiene checks and proper sanitary measures, which might take a few weeks to months.
COVID-19 has significant impacts not only on the trucking industry but also on the economy of the country overall. Adding to that, with most borders being closed, export and import of goods have also come to a complete standstill.
Even though at one point, the trucking industry was touted as recession-proof, the coronavirus crisis has had its adverse impact on it. Based on a report by DAT Freight and Analytics, there has been a 32.5% decrease in the number of loads available for truckers since March.
Added to that, their rates for their payments have reduced by 8%. This means that not only is it difficult for them to find loads, it is also possible that the trip might not be financially viable even when they find one.
Steps For The Future
Industry experts believe that certain concessions from the government can help the trucking industry function better while ensuring that they can transport goods faster and with a better game plan.
The trucking industry, in many countries, has been given the status of essential services given their contribution in keeping goods moving, especially food and medical supplies, which are of the utmost importance at this point.
Deploying more customs officials, fewer tolls, and faster clearances at airport courier and cargo terminals is an important step that ensures that the logistics sector continues functioning smoothly while transporting the essential commodities to the end consumers.
Salaries And Funding
If the government allowed tax deductions or subsidies on the salaries paid to the truckers and other employees by logistical companies, it would be easier for the businesses to stay afloat and manage losses.
The lowered cost prices of crude oils and the benefits of the same can also be passed on to the logistics industry, giving the businesses an extra point where they can avail benefits.
The logistics sector has taken a major hit, much like other services during the coronavirus pandemic, given that their whole point is transporting goods from one location to another.
While getting back to normal and making profits might take a significantly longer time, the industry will slowly inch back to regular as services open up slowly.