Covid-19: A Snapshot of the Current Impact on Logistics

Our Sector Has a Crucial Role in Meeting This Unprecedented Challenge

We’ve all seen the headlines and you’ve almost certainly experienced an impact on your own domestic shopping in the last week or two. The Coronavirus outbreak has sent demand for basic medication and hygiene items and staple goods through the roof, with loo roll shelves infamously empty in supermarkets across the world.

Retailers are seeking to restock far more rapidly than usual, as consumer buying spirals in anticipation of shortages and confinement. Online retail operations are under extreme pressure to satisfy many times the usual number of customers and size and frequency of orders. Meanwhile, face-to-face food service and leisure outlets are seeing customer numbers plummet, under the latest government guidance to limit social contact.


Extreme Demand Fluctuations for Logistics

For logistics operations, this rapid and extreme shift in market demand presents a big challenge. If you’re in the business of making deliveries to stores and hubs, or direct to consumer, you’ll likely be struggling to find capacity to fulfil your customers’ requirements. Distribution centres are generally well stocked – the issue is final mile delivery and getting goods from there into retail outlets fast enough.

For wholesale logistics firms who mainly deliver to pubs, restaurants, hotels, caterers and leisure attractions, the opposite is true. Demand is reducing rapidly as consumers follow advice to avoid social gatherings.


Logistics Workforce Reactions

Fast-evolving government advice affects logistics workforces. Drivers and warehouse staff who are classed as being at increased risk from Covid-19 will rightly choose to self-isolate or limit social contact, according to official instructions. Some may need to take time off to care for family members. Others are afraid or uncertain about whether they should continue working or call in sick.

But losing income by not working or working fewer hours is also worrying for wage-earners and their dependents. Some may even be willing and able to take on more hours, if they’re confident in their health and want to play their part in helping communities, or if they’re keen to boost their income in uncertain times.


Working Together to Meet the Challenge

Everyone in the logistics sector is united in seeking ways to deal with the challenges of this unprecedented situation. Some customers are putting internal projects on hold while they focus staff on meeting the current demand. Others are looking to optimise their systems to make the most of the capacity they have and to re-plan rapidly around workforce availability.

It seems likely that logistics providers with capacity to spare may collaborate with those under pressure to help meet direct-to-consumer and retail distribution demand in the coming weeks. We recognise our sector’s vital role in maintaining the supply of essentials to the places they’re needed.

There are no tried and tested solutions to the extraordinary new challenges that we all face this spring. Experience, expertise, a positive outlook and a systematic, flexible approach will all be needed as logistics operators respond to current circumstances.

We Can All Help

At CACI our capability is in route planning systems and optimisation. Massive changes can be modelled and thought through before commitments are made – if we can help with this then then please get in touch. We’ll do our best to advise and help you make the most of your available resources.

If you have any logistics planning advice or tips that could benefit other logistics businesses, we can help you share it through our network of clients and sector specialists.

We’re keen to do all we can to share best practice, support industry-wide collaboration and give your teams the best chance of success and safety at a time when our logistics sector is rising to an unheralded challenge.