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Today’s Pickup: COVID-19 delivering lasting change to logistics

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

COVID-19 has altered the traditional business landscape, with video conferencing now the communications norm. Logistics is no different, but Steve Denton, CEO of Ware2Go, said that smart companies can adjust through the proper use of technology.

“There are solutions and technologies like video conferencing and Slack channels to help teams stay connected in real-time as well as collaboration tools that continue sales processes with both sellers and buyers working remotely,” Denton said. “With physical stores being closed, digital and mobile commerce combined with the ability to deliver are even more critical for companies.”

Ware2Go is a UPS-backed startup (NYSE-UPS) focused on helping businesses solve one-day and two-day shipping problems.

Denton said technology helps it respond quickly to change, such as volume spikes, and businesses can do the same.

“The key here is to have partners that can offer you solutions, options that scale, and expertise with short cycle times and little investment,” Denton said. “Rapid change requires partners that have the infrastructure and capacity to move fast and provide solutions, along with a team that has experience in managing through tough times.”

For small- and mid-sized businesses (SMB), responding to this change can be difficult.

“The key is diversification of inbound and outbound options,” Denton said. “Frequently small businesses are single-threaded with one location and one partner, and when things go sideways, the SMB is at significant risk.”

The changes made during this time are going to be lasting, Denton predicts.

“We are going to need to find ways to continue and maximize the efficiencies we are seeing right now,” he said. “For example, many businesses are learning they can sell, interact with clients, and manage their teams and their business with less business travel and fewer meetings. We are being forced to really think about the efficacy of meetings and communicating with greater clarity. These are learnings we should continue to leverage moving forward. Making sure we have business partners that will allow a company to scale up or down based on business results, without requiring large capital investments, is going to be required.”

Did you know?

March sales at Walmart were up 20% as Americans stocked up on goods, but data from showed that in the third week of March, as more states put into effect stay-at-home orders, foot traffic in retail stores dropped 20.5%.


“A lot will depend on how long this continues. Those of us in the industry are so gratified to see young kids holding up signs thanking truck drivers. As we see more of that and it gets into our collective understanding, it will be cemented into our memories.” 

– Rebecca Brewster, president of the American Transportation Research Institute, on whether the image of trucking will be changed forever by COVID-19

In other news:

Air cargo companies profiteering from crisis?

Air forwarders are complaining that some air freight companies are jacking rates to profit from the need to move critical supplies. (Loadstar

Self-driving trucks moving cargo in Pittsburgh

Self-driving truck startup Locomation is now testing autonomous trucks on Pittsburgh area roads with the help of Wilson Logistics. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Services index suffers biggest one-month decline ever

The U.S. services index, published by HIS Markit, has fallen to a seasonally adjusted 39.8 in March, down from 49.4 in February – the largest one-month drop in the history of the index. (Wall Street Journal)

March rail carloads fall

Rail carloads fell 6% year-over-year in March, according to data from the Association of American Railroads. (Logistics Management)

Warehouse hiring rises

Government data shows that warehouse operations added 8,200 workers in March, but logistics operations overall shed jobs in the month. (Wall Street Journal)

Final thoughts

If there is one lesson that many Americans have learned living under the cloud that is COVID-19 is the importance of the supply chain. Many businesses have learned that same lesson. The beneficiaries of this may be the truckers themselves. The American Trucking Associations and others have long pushed image campaigns to promote the importance of the trucking industry and truckers. The current crisis has put them in the spotlight, and everyday Americans are responding with their thanks. You can read more about the lasting impact here.

Hammer down, everyone!

Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].