Fleet Outlook Post-Pandemic
COVID-19 has flipped life upside down to say the least. Big offices such as Salesforce transitioned from constructing the highest building in the mecca of technology to declaring the company would be fully remote, forever. Zoom became a household name and the new “spot” for hanging out. Well, virtually that is. Everything that could go virtual, went virtual. That included online shopping. In fact, as you are reading this a few online purchases of your own probably scrolled through your head.
E-commerce increased 44% in 2020, amounting $861.12 billion dollars, nearly tripling 2019’s growth of 15.1%. This led to the courier industry booming, but also having to deal with many logistical challenges of rapid increase of shipments. That, coupled with our newly gained expectation of faster deliveries at less (or even lower) shipping costs made for a great uphill battle for the fleet industry.
But, thanks to terrific drivers, fleet managers, and people all around, the task was answered. Now, in April of 2021, cases are decreasing tremendously from our peak in late 2020 as vaccinations are rapidly being distributed. It seems as though stability is on the horizon, but what will that do to the fleet world?
The transition to an online model of purchasing—and having that product shipped to your doorstep—was already coming even before COVID-19 began. COIVD-19 just accelerated that shift. McKinsey reported that companies were able to shift to a digital environment b y 20-25x. In store retail and malls were starting to fade, and COVID-19 sped that up.
With that said, even after the pandemic comes to a close and people can resume normal activity, the e-commerce world is still expected to boom. The convenience of having things delivered to the doorstep, and quickly, is hard to compete against. Especially since online shopping features insurmountable customization in comparison to in store retailers. Even items like clothes are now customized to the end user. E-commerce shows no signs of slowing down.
What does this mean for the fleet world? This past year saw incredible growth in the logistics sector, but likewise saw many roadblocks on processing and executing the exponential increase in orders. Even worse, there has been a national truck driver shortage that was only made worse by the pandemic. 68% of all U.S. freight is transported via highways, making truck drivers vital to the functioning of our economy, and society in general. Fleets are going to continue to be essential even past the pandemic and will have to continue to improve operations to sustain this growth.
To make operations successful for fleets and logistics, optimization is crucial. As shipping continues to grow, fleets will need to continue to make each delivery as efficient as possible, specifically with last mile delivery. Last mile delivery is the final stage of completing a delivery, from the local drop location to the doorstep. This process is very difficult to do efficiently because of how low volume each stop is. Likewise, there are a lot of stops. 100 packages being delivered to a neighborhood means roughly 100 different stops.
Utilizing emerging technology such as automation, AI, and IOT solutions can help speed this up, according to Trailer Bridge CEO Mitchell Luciano. Devices such as Global Cloud Fleet’s EZ750 can help with overall fleet efficiency by measuring fuel costs, idling time, predictive maintenance, and much more. However, driver retention is likewise just as important to the optimization of fleet operations, especially with continued driver shortages.
Truck driving is a very arduous, tiring job. Finding ways to ease that helps keep drivers motivated to continue the profession. With ELD supportive technology like the EZ750, drivers have a much easier way of logging their hours and likewise can be more productive during their hours of operation. On top of that, solutions like Global Cloud Fleet’s VS800 Video Solution assure higher fleet safety and show drivers true investment in them. Dashboard cameras like this provide many benefits that help the driver much more often than not.
In conclusion, after the pandemic has settled, logistics show no sign of slowing down. With that means continued increase in work for fleets which is both good for business but brings with it many fulfillment challenges. Look for fleets in the future to utilize technology and automation to serve the high demand, but also remember to invest in who ultimately gets that package to the doorstep, the truck drivers.