The shipping and delivery industry is going through a lot of changes right now. Nearly 12 million trucks, rail cars, locomotives, and vessels move goods over the transportation network. Many of those vessels have either slowed down or halted entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before the pandemic, those in the shipping and delivery industry may have worried about things like transportation issues (like transportation compliance or semi truck accident legal services). Now, they have to worry about shipping and delivery delays, an increasing demand, and keeping up with guidelines to keep workers and customers healthy.
The more we understand these changes, the better we can understand the processes that impact our lives daily. Here are ten ways shipping and delivery services have been affected by COVID-19.
Shipping and Delivery Services Had To Adjust
As the COVID-19 pandemic started in late 2019 and continued into early 2020, the world saw industries adjust seemingly overnight. Shipping and delivery services had to adjust as well. Before the pandemic hit, companies handling shipping and delivery may have been worried about their day-to-day affairs with government contracting and privately-owned companies. Then, coronavirus cases began to spike, and quarantine regulations were put in place.
As a result, companies within the shipping and delivery industry had to adjust. They had to meet new guidelines all while ensuring everything they shipped and delivered was still ready to go out. Some warehouses closed, while others were significantly reduced in size and capacity. Complications came up, and companies had to adjust and deal with the fallback. The industry had to pivot quickly and shift all operations to fit in with the new normal.
This kind of adjustment caused certain procedures to come to a standstill, and as a result, priorities had to shift. Companies had to look at what the most important tasks were and how they could get them done while abiding by guidelines.
Some Goods and Services Were Delayed
Since everything had to shift at a moment’s notice, shipping and delivery services were delayed. Delays happened for a number of reasons. For some, truck rentals may have been delayed for cleaning purposes. For others, it was because their facilities’ capacities were minimized or closed altogether, so they couldn’t fill orders at the same rate they did before.
There were some companies who delayed shipments on purpose in order to fulfill orders they deemed as necessary. Amazon was one of those companies. The company asked its warehouse workers to prioritize deliveries that contained items that were deemed the most important for customers during the quarantine. Other orders deemed “non-essential” were delayed to make room for the essential deliveries.
Delays in the delivery of goods and services also happened due to staff being reduced. Many companies reduced staff in an attempt to limit the risk of exposure. Fewer people on staff means the remaining staff needs to churn out the same volume of work their full team does. That doesn’t always happen, and as a result, delays happen.
The Demand Continued Rising
Despite the reduced staff at warehouses and the complete closure of facilities during COVID-19, the demand for shipping and delivery services continued to rise. Online shopping surged while people quarantined in their homes. Businesses still needed to fill those orders. It didn’t matter if their warehouse couldn’t keep up or if their plastics distributor and other vendors were delayed. Businesses had to figure out what to do to keep up with demand.
Businesses either restructured their whole manufacturing process to meet demand or told customers to expect delays in deliveries. This caused some frustration with customers, especially if delays were weeks out. The coronavirus pandemic caused delays in an on-demand world, and customers and businesses alike felt the impact.
The demand for essential items picked up as well, which means companies had to figure out how to get these items to customers in a safe way. If there were delays, they had to be proactive in explaining why. They also had to plan for future orders that would come in while they tried to fulfill the orders they already had. Shipping and delivery companies continue to try to balance this demand with orders that still need to go out.
Hiring Picked Up
The economy took a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Jobs were cut and millions of people filed for unemployment benefits. However, some companies in the shipping and delivery services industry needed employees. As online shopping soared, the demand for people to get deliveries to customers increased. Companies needed people to deliver goods to their customers, so they hired more delivery people. Amazon made a plan to hire 100,000 people for fulfillment and delivery services back in March, while the United States Postal Service also continued to hire to meet the demands of the public.
Some of these jobs could be found through an employment agency while others were found online. The job descriptions varied, as did the hours and responsibilities. Those who were laid off due to the economic impact of COVID-19 may have jumped at the opportunity to get back to work and applied right away. The demand for workers helped get people back to work and got more packages delivered to more customers.
New Guidelines Were Put in Place
Companies in the shipping and delivery services had to adjust to new guidelines put in place as the coronavirus pandemic became widespread. Delivery and shipping workers had to abide by social distancing guidelines and were urged to wear masks to help limit exposure. Delivery drivers were also urged to practice contactless deliveries as much as they could. Delivery and shipping workers were also told to emphasize cleanliness and disinfect whenever they could.
These new guidelines were put in place to help limit the spread of coronavirus. Some people may have been concerned that deliveries could spread the virus, which is why delivery and shipping workers must be diligent about following the proper procedures.
Companies Had To Play Offense
Delivery and shipping companies had to play the offense when the coronavirus outbreak first started. Some people voiced concerns that the shipping and delivery of goods would spread the virus and put more people at risk. Company leaders had to be offensive and prove to the public that they were doing everything they could to limit exposure while still delivering products.
Some companies took to social media to state their dedication to keeping everyone safe during the pandemic. Others posted messages on their website and provided updates about their procedures every step of the way. Shipping and delivery companies who were on the offense and proactive about their compliance and preventative plans stood a better chance of being trusted by the public during an uncertain time.
Some Industries Were Impacted More Than Others
There were some industries that felt a bigger impact on their shipping and delivery services than others. The retail industry was hit hard since transportation and shipping were impacted. The restaurant and hospitality industries were severely impacted due to travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines. Businesses who were in the red before the pandemic hit were now faced with a grim reality: their businesses may not survive. It didn’t matter if they were going through business mergers or if they had plans for the rest of the year. They needed to adjust to the situation at hand, and some weren’t able to survive the adjustment period.
There were some industries that still felt the effects of the pandemic but didn’t necessarily have their shipping or delivery impacted. Financial services, tech, and real estate all saw changes in their industries. Every industry has been impacted in some way, but certain industries had multiple touchpoints impacted.
International Shipping Was Impacted
Something that was heavily impacted in terms of shipping and delivery services is that international shipping was heavily delayed or suspend altogether. International air travel and shipping was suspended in multiple countries, which caused delays in delivery and manufacturing services. China is one of the world’s central locations for shipping and manufacturing, but the pandemic caused shipping ports to close and factories to shut their doors and send workers home. Production came to a jarring halt and companies across the globe had to adjust.
Shipping issues and delays can be felt by air and by sea. Some countries refused to take ships that came from a Chinese port within a two week time period, while other countries had rigorous screening processes put in place to ensure ships from Chinese ports were safe to come into their own ports. Delays in air and sea shipments were felt across the globe.
Shipping and delivery companies are also feeling the pressure to get caught up with backorders, especially as the holiday season draws near. This may be difficult since online shopping continues to climb while shipping and delivery companies try to fill as many delayed orders as possible.
USPS Suspended Signature-Required Deliveries
A notable change within the shipping and delivery services came from the United States Postal Service, also known as the USPS. The USPS has suspended signature-required deliveries in order to limit exposure among the public. In some cases, people may need to show a government-issued ID to get a delivery, but that depends on what the delivery is.
Contactless delivery is only one step the USPS and other delivery and shipping companies are taking to limit exposure. Deliveries can now be placed at a doorstep or six feet away from the customer’s doorstep. It’s recommended that customers and delivery workers do what they can to do everything electronically so that exposure is further limited. Delivery drivers are encouraged to avoid sharing pens and scanners with customers. Delivery workers can also wear machine-washable gloves throughout their shift, but they must be diligent about not touching their face or eating while wearing the gloves.
These measures are put in place for a reason. People still need to get their mail and packages delivered, but there have to be protocols in place to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19. It’s important for workers and customers alike to follow guidelines and do what’s necessary to keep them healthy.
Companies Continue To Roll With The Punches
Shipping and delivery companies, along with many other companies, continue to roll with the punches as the pandemic continues. Moving companies, airlines, restaurants, and other companies have to be diligent about staying up-to-date on their delivery and shipping situation. The more they know, the more they can inform their customers and keep them in the loop. Companies should also continue to prioritize their customer support efforts and do what they can to help their customers during this time. Many customers may not know what obstacles companies are facing right now, but the key is to keep things running as smooth as possible while dealing with these obstacles.
Before the pandemic hit, shipping and delivery companies had other issues to focus on. There may have been a minor trucking accident to deal with, or perhaps leadership was looking for ways to automate processes and save the company money. However, the pandemic caused companies to roll with the punches at a moment’s notice. Companies continue to roll with the punches and will be adjusting until they find their new normal.
There are numerous ways shipping and delivery services have been impacted by COVID-19. Between delays, staff shortages, and demand continuing to rise, shipping and delivery companies are dealing with situations they may not have dealt with before. This may seem impossible for shipping and delivery leaders to deal with at times, but they must keep up and adjust as need be.
The same can be said for other companies in other industries as well. Those in numerous industries, ranging from hauling services to small retail stores, continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19. Situations and guidelines can change within a day, and companies need to keep that at the forefront of their strategy. Customers and companies alike should remember that everyone is doing what they can during these times. The key is to be patient and adjust as needed.