Year after year, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and the rush of seasonal purchases leave the supply chain industry with little room to budge. Now, in the COVID-19 pandemic, with online shopping predicted to increase 33%, trucking companies and their fleets are feeling fatigued.
The pandemic and the surge in remote work it generated have made online shopping the preferred method of spreading holiday cheer. Behind the scenes, inventory imbalance, city-wide gridlock and the holiday peak season are collectively causing delayed shipments and irritable recipients. Coyote Logistics, a leading global 3PL combining a centralized marketplace with freight and supply chain solutions — and a BLASTmedia client — recently shared how the industry is shaping up this season with a number of supply chain trade and national business publications.
The supply chain industry has been anticipating and preparing for the holiday peak season since the pandemic began. As Coyote Logistics’ Head of Europe, Jaap Bruining, shared with Supply Chain Digital, each portion of the supply chain has had to rely on data analytics to gain visibility and better mitigate anticipated disruption, including heightened online orders. Simultaneously, suppliers need to be prepared to think on their feet and “proactively develop relationships with alternative manufacturers, allowing [them] to shift operations more quickly in response to disruption.” Analytics and quick thinking will benefit suppliers and their counterparts when tackling the holiday season.
Although it seems FedEx, UPS and the postal service are out to ruin the holiday cheer with late packages, a different culprit is at work. As Chief Network Solutions Officer, Nick Shroeger, shared with Supply Chain Brain, companies are experiencing inventory imbalance, meaning inventory levels aren’t matching consumer demand. According to Shroeger, this results in mass “unpredictability of where products and inventory are going to be.” For example, a consumer may see an iPhone 12 in their virtual cart, but Apple relies on more than one supplier to produce the mechanisms that constitute the mobile device. If one supplier has limited stock, this year’s hot ticket item may become limited, at no fault of Apple’s.
On the big screen, Hollywood portrays the American truck driver spending their day slurping slushies and avoiding tumbleweeds as they drive thousands of miles cross-country. Hollywood aside, drivers tend to spend a portion of their government-regulated hours of service sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. And while it seems simple to change pickup and delivery patterns to relieve congestion, Shroeger admits an alliance would need to be formed among the larger trucking companies. In a piece for Chicago Business, he touched on the transparency the alliance would need to possess, stating that “companies won’t change unless they believe it will create value for them.” Value aside, an alliance would take years of cooperation and collaboration, leaving drivers stuck this holiday season.
While not every company has the pandemic-filled holiday season figured out, fleets and their carriers keep wading through the unknown. Every day, drivers strive to deliver goods on time so perfectly hand-picked holiday presents can sit wrapped in paper and tinsel below the tree.
Do you have a perspective you’d like to share on the logistics field? Reach out to Lindsey Groepper to find out how BLASTmedia can help you join the conversation.