The COVID-19 pandemic continues to put huge financial strains on hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the country, forcing owners to rethink their operations and go-to market strategies. For brick-and-mortar companies, high rents, reduced foot traffic, and stringent health regulations have decimated the indoor shopping and retail experience. As a result, landlords, financial institutions, and a large majority of the commercial real estate industry have been hampered by these new issues, and the need to implement e-commerce has been essential to their survival.
To support the growing trend of e-commerce, Business Insider reported, “Warehouses, once overlooked by investors as grimy relics of America's industrial past, have seen a surge of demand in recent years from both tenants and buyers as they have become key cogs for growing e-commerce and logistics businesses. That interest has only grown amid the pandemic, which has appeared to accelerate a years-long shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping to online commerce.” In addition to warehouses, fulfillment centers and last-mile delivery have grown as well. The power of network elasticity for e-commerce is somewhat resilient to the COVID shutdowns. Foot traffic, or no foot traffic, is a trend that will only continue.
E-commerce has seen record growth over the past couple of years, but due to COVID-19, 2020 is poised to dramatically increase previous predictions. Of course, this puts more pressure on shippers who have already been struggling to fill capacity and meet higher-than-normal demand. The need to be flexible and fill loads quickly is imperative. And operating at scale is one of the key factors that many retailers across numerous industry verticals must properly implement into their operations.
As a large, diversified, forward-thinking transportation service provider, RPM’s unique ability to flex up or down, leveraging our 30,000+ carrier network, allows us to handle market volatility and fill capacity quickly for our customers. Our flexibility allows us to bring true efficiencies to the supply chain and meet demand while keeping costs low. We also provide full visibility and transparency with our shared TMS, so customers can track and trace in realtime. Thanks to our partners like P-44, our integrated systems deliver true transparency our customers need.
Unfortunately, the barriers that have prevented businesses from returning to normal may likely not go away anytime soon. The future of brick-and-mortar retail will only continue to be threatened by the rapid rise of e-commerce platforms and shipping. The traditional model of Port to Warehouse to DC to Store may likely change to become Port to Warehouse/Fulfillment Center. Regardless of what the future holds, there are plenty of ways shippers can optimize their supply chains today and ensure that they are not struggling to catch up tomorrow. Whatever the direction, it will require working with a team that truly understands the marketplace and can identify the right strategies.