How will shipping change permanently because of coronavirus?

Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. Today we will answer the following: “how will shipping change permanently because of coronavirus?” 

It is no surprise that 2020 will go down in the history books as one of the weirdest years to date. COVID-19 reshaped society and how businesses function within it. All businesses in all industries are trying to adapt, and the shipping industry is no exception.

How COVID-19 has already changed shipping

This year has been a roller coaster for the shipping industry. “Compared with last year, trucking volumes initially increased by about 30 percent in 2020 as a result of panic buying, then dropped markedly, and are now ticking back up again. Railroad volumes declined by 20 percent and have not recovered. Last-mile deliveries have surged more than ten times over, but ocean shipping is down by 25 percent.”

Changes in demand make sense when you think about the strange mix of brick-and-mortar panic buying and the growth of eCommerce. On top of that, many shipping companies have not been able to ship from their regular shipping locations due to various travel restrictions around the world. For many companies, this initially led to delayed shipping times or even a prolonged delivery process.

With all these rapid changes in mind, here are three predictions for how shipping will change due to the Coronavirus. 

Our predictions on how COVID-19 will change shipping in the future

1. In the following years, you will start to see more people outsourcing fulfillment.

Think about how many companies there are shipping items right now. We’ve talked about how tedious and difficult it is to ship your own orders. A lot of people will get sick of shipping their own orders, and they will want to outsource the work.

Our first prediction is simple: more people will outsource order fulfillment to keep up with growing eCommerce demand. Of course, there’s another reason people will want to outsource, too, and that takes us to our second point.

2. In the following years, you will see major growth in same-day shipping. 

You have already started to see a surge in same-day shipping this year. People want the immediacy of in-store purchases without exposure to, well, a dangerous disease.

This is partly due to the fact that big companies are buying local real estate to ship items more quickly. It’s also partly because of the stratospheric rise in online grocery delivery. Neither of these trends is going to go anywhere after the pandemic subsides.

3. In the following years, you will see a shift focusing more on the health and safety of all parties involved in the shipping process. 

You can’t avoid it – going through a global pandemic has changed the way that we look at what is “clean.” Even watching TV and movies from five years ago is strange because you notice how unsanitary many behaviors are. People expect different health and safety procedures, which some are even calling hygiene theater.

Like other companies, shipping companies will likely start focusing more on the health of their workers in the long run, as well as the cleanliness of their buildings. Many businesses will do this on their own, but even the ones that don’t will likely do so to comply with new regulations that will result from this pandemic.

Final Thoughts

Even though we do not know what will happen in the next few months or years, we can extrapolate from current trends. The world of shipping will move forward in ever more efficient ways. More companies will outsource fulfillment, many more will offer same-day shipping, and almost all will be likely to pay attention to health and safety trends.

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