Bring on the New Year: Logistics Outlook for 2021

As we dive headfirst into the new year, it’s probably safe to say that 2020 will not be a year easily forgotten. If 2020 had a common theme for the year, that theme in its most positive term would be “adjustment.” Around the globe, our personal and work lives were upended with minimal warning. As the pandemic began to spread, we found that very basic day-to-day activities such as spending time with friends and family, water cooler conversations with co-workers, and even dependence on a resilient supply chain turned out to be essential necessities we had taken for granted.

As the New Year builds out, it’s pertinent to review your shipping methods and the ways you can improve upon and create an informed shipping plan for 2021 the coming years. But, before we get into what the outlook for 2021 looks like, we want to express a relieved and appreciative “thank you” to the ocean and air carriers, port and airport operators, truck drivers, customs agents, and the many other logistics professionals who work hard to bring a little normal to our doorsteps, restaurants, grocery store shelves, and any and all kinds of businesses.

Expect some challenges from 2020 to continue in 2021

Observing and experiencing the current events and situations around the world, it’s clear that many of the challenges we experienced in 2020 are not dissolving anytime soon—and there are potentially new challenges on the horizon. If there is anything the supply chain industry needs to learn from these ongoing challenges, it is agility and resilience. Supply chains need to be flexible enough to absorb these shocks, major or minor, and respond immediately and sufficiently as new obstacles appear.

Global demand for coronavirus vaccines

This should be no shock after experiencing 2020, but the pandemic may be the largest disruptor on the shipping market again in 2021, but not necessarily for the same reasons. Vaccines have begun infiltrating hospitals and healthcare facilities, with full global rollouts are expected in early Q1 2021.

With vaccines likely moving via air freight due to strict temperature requirements, we expect peripheral products, such as syringes, gauze and cotton, to move via ocean and road, which could mean tightened capacity for each air, road or ocean shipment.

Through our state-of-the-art technology suite and unmatched service offerings, including ocean, air, customs brokerage, and surface transportation, we help customers mitigate the unplanned risks and shipping changes.

Why 2021 Could Hold Promise

Americas Commercial Transportation (ACT) released its North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK report earlier this year, projecting 2021 to be a “transition year,” as published by the Trucker News Staff. ACT pointed out that because the global economy was structurally sound before the pandemic, the global supply chain has the solid foundation it needs to bounce back from the 2020 disruption starting as early as Q1 2021. And as the world recovers from the unexpected economic downturn, demand for truckers will only increase. More consumer spending always correlates with more freight moving, and experts believe that the trucking industry should be ready for this impending uptick in demand.

Additionally, many in the industry believe that the worst is already behind us, and we should begin seeing positive results very soon. Even if (or when) another wave of COVID hits, many companies in operation clearly understand how to continue operations in the face of a pandemic, as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Almost all have adapted to the times to find ways to be successful, and this experience will help them remain afloat for the months and years to come.

What this Means for Trucking and Transportation at Large

All findings point to one thing: the earlier shippers begin implementing and tweaking their 2021 strategies, the better. If the economy does indeed begin to recover this year, as many believe it will, trucking companies must ensure that they have the bandwidth to adapt to the increasing demand. Now more than ever, 3PLs and carriers must ensure they have reliable processes in place. It is crucial to properly train your teams and communicate to your customers and suppliers your current capacity and abilities.

Additionally, even when freight bounces back to its pre-COVID levels, there will likely be a “new normal,” including a preference for e-commerce and demand for flexible fulfillment, social distancing, more work from home, and the increased use of electronic records.

The biggest takeaway here is that flexibility and resilience is absolutely vital, as the industry must react quickly and pivot according to customer needs and demand in this extremely unpredictable landscape.

If you are looking for a 3PL to help offset many of these reciprocal effects of 2020, while looking forward to a more efficient, stable future of your organization, it will be in your best interest to fill out the form below. Get in contact with our logistics professionals and experience Prosponsive® logistics.

 

Written by:
Tim Griffin
Director of Marketing & Media, C.L. Services

 

Get in touch with our in-house logistics experts: