European countries are reopening economies and recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic faster than expected. The early stages of this phase tested supply chains within Europe exposed their weaknesses and pushed several sectors to the limits, where others stayed behind. Most likely, some trends will disappear, other ones are here to stay.
What changes did we see and what supply chain lessons we’ve learned?
When it all started…
Mid-March 2020, many countries announced the closing of physical stores and hospitality. During these strict lockdown restrictions, some industries increase, others decrease massively. Therefore, the impact of this period was very dependent on the sector and country.
The DIY branch and Hi-tech were booming markets at that time. Because of the lockdown, people were housebound and started looking for an alternative hobby and commodities – that would ease the time at home. The volumes in these branches increased massively, sometimes even doubled. There was a lot of production and stock increasing, and the shift from offline to online shopping was visible. More and more people find out the ease of e-commerce and the advantage of home deliveries.
In addition to e-commerce, consumers stock up essential products like toilet paper, rice, canned vegetables, and soap. So, while some industries have ground to a halt, others go forth and multiple.
We saw an increase in the available freight capacity due to less volume in other branches. At the same time, service levels remained or even increased due to mainly less congestion on the road. Therefore, highly flexible transport was possible and needed. However, there was also a drawback; in some industries tendering was done directly to reduce the costs.
We learned that flexibility and communication are key in such times. Internal as external communication: listening and updating our employees and customers to get the best out of it.
On the way to regular
After the 1st lockdown, mid-May 2020, it seemed to go back to regular, and the market stabilized again. There was less panic at governments, stores and restaurants reopened, and transport found its way back to normal.
When stores reopened, shipments started to increase. However, there was still a lot of uncertainty, so the physical stores’ shipments were still in lower demand. So, even when the stores reopened, e-commerce kept on growing. The way of transportation and delivery has changed in more direct deliveries than through stores.
On the way to regular, more restrictions for crossing borders and delivering freight came up. So, corona testing and wearing masks became the new ‘normal’ but a challenge for many companies – especially for international transport.
During this period, we learned to create more operational efficiency. Because we had to deal with quarantines, testing, no possibility to enter warehouses, and we still need to offer a lot of flexibility.
Is there the old ‘regular’?
Now, in June 2021, Europe is busy vaccinating and reopening its economies. Because of this, it becomes busier in all growing industries. Because of this, economics is facing enormous challenges on capacity.
Within the transport sector, we see constantly increasing demands in most of industries. However, some changes might be here to stay as the customer switched. E-commerce seems to be the new norm. On average, there is 30% growth in the online customer base. Also, customers buy more, but less frequently. That trend might reshape our supply chain for longer.
A learning period for Emons Cargo 2WIN
Last year and a half, we learned many new supply chain lessons, but we will come out with even more knowledge. Unique experiences and highly flexible like never before, we have proven that we can move with the market’s demand. Want to know more about our services? Get in touch!