It is the question of most industries: what will be the lasting effects of the global corona crisis. Will we be working at home much more via video connections? The Twitter board has announced that employees no longer have to come to the office if they want to. Does this mean the definitive breakthrough of online supermarkets? Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Picnic are currently hiring hundreds of people to meet the increased demand. And will the fear of spreading the virus also have consequences for international logistics? Nobody knows for sure. But it is certain that some structural change is coming. Also within logistics.
Problem & Opportunity
Within the world of crisis management, it has been quoted a lot: the Chinese character for crisis consists of two words: Problem & Opportunity. Exactly indicating what crisis management is all about: solving problems plus seeing and cashing in on opportunities. So you see that in many industries think tanks are active to come up with ‘the next generation’ of something. Also because - apart from the corona crisis - we do not live in an era of change, but in the change of an era. An era in which developments are moving faster than we think. And professionals, before they realize it, stand on the track staring into the headlights of an approaching express train.
In recent months, because everyone was at home, the amount of online orders has increased significantly. Which in turn means that the number of logistical movements associated with these orders has increased enormously. With most recipients wanting their packages in the afternoon between 4 - 7 pm. Effectively creating an extra logistical rush hour.
In addition, it appears that on average a package takes 1.3 delivery times to eventually reach the recipient. For this, the van must drive much more than the number of packages requires. With an additional negative factor: in the Netherlands we have in recent decades invested enormously to make truck transport less polluting. But have forgotten the vans. So, with the increase in online ordering we see an extra environmental effect: pollution from the use of (often) older diesel vans.
And then there are the returns: just look at the online clothing and shoe market. In the past decade, consumers have been tempted to ‘order a number of colors in different sizes right away, because you can send the rest back.’ This return market costs a lot of time, energy and money (in Rotterdam at one point there even was a warehouse with returned shoes that the online shop considered unsaleable and therefore did not want to have them back).
And we must also not forget the impact on logistics. So there is every reason to take a critical look at this. In terms of costs (having consumers pay for return), but also in terms of environmental impact.
At Euro Forwarding we are thinking about this. Convinced as we are that logistics around residential areas should be organized differently. For example, by creating a logistical center on the outskirts of the municipalities, to deliver the parcels from there with electric cars. Like a local Post NL. We are convinced that this will not only save time, but will also create environmental gains. In addition, the return can also be organized in a more efficient way.
This has nothing to do with corona in a direct sense. But indirectly it does. And so also this crisis proves: besides huge problems, clear opportunities arise.