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COVID-19 and Last-Mile Delivery Demands



Last-mile delivery providers are being forced to be agile and flexible as they see a number of changes amidst COVID-19. Not only has e-commerce seen a substantial rise, but more and more retail businesses have shifted to become more like fulfillment centers than traditional retail stores. The result is that last-mile delivery companies have had to respond to a spike in demand while also enacting safety measures and protocols to keep employees and customers safe.

Long-Term Shifts for Last-Mile Delivery Companies

While the shifts for last-mile delivery companies emerged quickly, they’re likely to be long-term changes. There are a couple of reasons to believe that this is going to be the case. First, retail businesses have made substantial investments in becoming more like fulfillment centers. They invested in systems and technology to allow for services like delivery and curbside pickup. Because those investments have already been made, retailers will continue to offer these services even when the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

Second, in countries where lockdowns have ended and life has returned, more or less, to normal, consumers are still relying heavily on e-commerce. For the most part, buying habits that shifted during COVID-19 lockdowns are staying the same even once restrictions have been lifted. Based on these factors, last-mile delivery companies should anticipate that the shifts and demands that COVID-19 brought are going to be long-term industry changes.

How Last Mile Delivery Companies Deal with New Requirements

Last-mile delivery providers are facing two distinct challenges: one is responding to shifts in demand and the other is implementing necessary safety procedures.

To handle spikes in demand, companies need to improve automation and develop more flexible and scalable sorting systems. In many cases, this technology can be quickly added to existing spaces and systems. In addition to automation, companies need to improve analytics, which will increase output capacity and improve efficiency.

In a lot of ways, these companies are being forced to immediately implement a decade worth of robotics and automation projects. Yet, the more companies can improve automation, sorting capabilities, and analytics, the better able they’ll be to respond to changes in buying habits, meeting increased consumer demands.

At the same time, however, companies must protect the health and safety of their employees and customers. This means providing necessary PPEs, planning regular and thorough facility cleaning, implementing protocols for social distancing, and developing plans for COVID-19 testing.

COVID-19 has led to sudden and dramatic shifts for last mile delivery companies, and it’s likely that the changes will be long-term. To learn more about how the industry is responding to the COVID-19 crisis or for any other logistics questions, contact ClearFreight today!

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