Being Certain in Uncertain Times
There are some common sentiments going around right now: fear, insecurity, panic, unease, and – if you're not careful – negativity. One feeling that is definitely in short supply these days is certainty. And no wonder – in a relatively short amount of time, most people's personal and professional lives have been turned upside down. What is certain, though, is that e-commerce – and its impacts on residential shipping – has been particularly affected by the ongoing pandemic, with many online retailers reporting year-over-year revenue growth of up to 75% (or more) in the early days of the pandemic1 – a trend that's sure to continue for months to come.
In fact, over the last six months, we've seen:
- Immediate and lasting impact to online shopping behavior. Consumers are avoiding in-store shopping and embracing e-commerce like never before. Experts believe that this shift in consumer behavior is likely permanent, and that a majority of consumers will continue to prefer an online shopping experience even when it's safe to resume shopping in stores. Even as customers shop more online, their purchasing power has taken a hit as the pandemic's accompanying economic downturn has reduced employment levels and paychecks.
- A rise in residential shipping. Besides the increase in e-commerce, there has been a general trend away from office-related deliveries and toward residential ones. This makes sense, as many office workers have transitioned temporarily or permanently into home-based situations, leading to fewer B2B transactions and more B2C ones. In recent months, UPS has seen their volume shift to predominantly residential deliveries – a major change for many shipments previously bound for office locations that now sit unattended.
- Major disruptions to the global supply chain. The aforementioned quarantine measures and headcount reductions have wreaked havoc on the predictability that the global supply chain counts on for consistency. To this day, and likely for the foreseeable future, ports are closed or jammed up, carriers have reduced capacities, and factories and not producing at their pre-pandemic levels. This overall lack of predictability greatly influences another key e-commerce aspect: shipping rates.
- Large rate fluctuations. Businesses and consumers that have counted on fairly stable and predictable shipping budgets have been rocked by rapidly fluctuating rates as retailers, producers, and carriers all attempt to adjust to the "new normal."
So whether you've seen an uptick in your e-commerce business that has you scrambling to fill more orders than ever, or you've seen a residential shift in your recipient locations as more companies make remote work a long-term solution, you're probably looking for ways to regain control over your supply chain.
One choice you can make to add some predictability into otherwise uncertain times is building a partnership with a trusted third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Here are a few ways the right 3PL can inject some certainty into your shipping operations:
- A relationship from Day 1. Nobody knows your business like you do, but a trusted 3PL can come in at a very close second. They'll take the time to get to know your business's unique shipping needs and ensure that you have the right shipping solutions to meet them.
- Access to capacity. Although carriers are quickly adapting operations to meet the demand shift from B2B to B2C, there's still a crunch on available capacity that could affect your shipments. Because 3PLs negotiate with leading small package and freight carriers, their customers generally get priority when it comes to limited space.
- Forward-thinking. Your ideal 3PL partner doesn't just know your business, they also have the experience and foresight to know the road ahead. While nobody has a crystal ball, on-the-ball 3PLs are the best-equipped to help you adapt and pivot during in a chaotic business environment. Their seen-it-all experience is priceless in helping you not only address immediate challenges, but also plan for the future so that your business is as prepared as possible should the worst occur.
- A one-stop shop. With a powerful 3PL in your corner, the days of shopping around for the best rate, route and tools are behind you. The right 3PL will provide top-to-bottom, streamlined service that will allow you to easily and intuitively control every aspect of your shipping. Billing, real-time tracking, proper insurance and more are all at your fingertips.
- Rates that won't grate. As e-commerce and residential shipping demands increase, you want to make sure that your shipping costs stay predictable and within your budget. A great 3PL can provide you with the best possible value for your shipping dollars, especially in these residential delivery-heavy times, and can also be a handy companion that provides cost-saving ideas, such as packaging best practices.
The only thing that's certain about the coming months is that uncertainty will continue to prevail for most businesses. Do your peace of mind – and bottom line – a favor by partnering with an experienced and highly regarded 3PL like Worldwide Express.
Get started with a custom shipping consultation today and see how you can leverage our experience and expertise to provide your business some certainty in uncertain times.