How COVID-19 affected the global shipping industry?

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Written by Ecoparcel July 09, 2021

A time of uncertainty and chaos, that’s how most people would probably describe the global coronavirus pandemic which impacted many aspects of our daily lives, some of which changed forever.

Businesses were no exception. Many had to adapt quickly in order to survive, which for some required them to rethink their business model in general. One of the most affected industries was of course the shipping industry.

Many habits and practices that were standard have changed perhaps forever. In this article we will discuss the main aspects of how the global shipping industry was affected by the ongoing global pandemic.

Impact of the pandemic on the global parcel industry

As mentioned at the beginning, this global health crisis has had many dramatic economical impacts around the world, but the postal industry was arguably one of the most affected ones. 

One of the biggest strikes was in terms of the disruption of supply chains internationally. Huge restrictions were imposed on traffic, with air travel being especially vulnerable worldwide. This meant that during the first months of the outbreak, almost no shipping of goods across borders was possible.

Some experts estimate that around 3 percent of global trade decreased during that time and many shipments were simply stuck with no way to go.

In order to stabilize the situation, many of the major companies had to apply strict changes to the way they operate. First of all, the maximum safety of customers and employees had to be ensured with huge priority given to proper sanitization at all stages.

Next, the concept of contactless delivery had to be implemented. This was developed in part because of the strict public health regulations imposed by governments worldwide and in part of trying to solve the disruptions within the shipping industry.

Lastly, delivery companies also had to redeploy most of their staff on the grounds of maximum safety in order to normalize the situation.

So, it’s not difficult to see how massively postal deliveries were impacted and what rapid decisions had to be made to try and normalize the crippled shipment industry. 

In the next section we will talk about the biggest challenges that the industry had to tackle during the pandemic.

What were the biggest challenges the industry faced during the crisis?

One of the most visible impacts of the pandemic was seen in the growth of e-commerce, since more and more people shopped online while staying at home. In fact, the numbers grew so large that most postal operators were working at almost peak-shipping season rates on a daily basis.

The increased amount means storage capacities getting overwhelmed, employees getting completely exhausted and the overall performance of the company dropping.

Another thing highlighted by the crisis was the fact that just how much the global delivery industry depends on worldwide transportation. Even today, when the situation is somewhat taking the right turn, many restrictions still make it difficult to deliver parcels as intended.

The good thing is that many service providers have been willing to look for new solutions of optimizing their transportation networks and it seems that they will be prepared in the future.

In the final section, we need to talk about how the shipping industry will operate post-crisis.

What’s next for the industry?

The pandemic proved that in many aspects, the shipping industry can still be vulnerable, especially with little preparation. While the use of technology is being seen more and more often, new and innovative ideas can be key ensuring that similar impacts don’t happen in the future.

For many companies, the crisis showed that there’s a huge need for completely different approaches than before and they are sure to follow them if anything similar happens in the near future.

All in all

In this article, we’ve talked about some of the major challenges that the shipping industry had to face during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had during the most troubling times. Swift decision-making and new solutions were necessary in order to tackle them and it seems that many approaches that were standard before have changed forever.


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