The widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted major economies around the world.
Millions of small businesses find themselves having to quickly adapt to new regulations set by governments to protect the public of varying degrees – some require all non-essential businesses to shut entirely, while others permit business activity as long as there is sufficient social distancing in place.
What does this mean for small businesses?
Businesses must be able to adapt quickly to continue conducting business in a safe manner that does not put their employees and customers’ health at risk.
For eateries, this could mean transitioning to only takeaway orders. For grocers and vendors of other essential goods, this could mean offering home deliveries direct to the consumers’ homes.
We spoke to some local business owners around the globe to find out how they’re running their logistics in this time of crisis.
In this article, we explore how small businesses around the world have utilized last-mile technologies to quickly respond to the paradigm shift and ride out the storm.
A sudden surge in delivery orders
Around the world, many grocers and food suppliers see an unprecedented surge in delivery orders. Fearing possible viral transmission in brick-and-mortar stores, and complying with local lockdown orders, many consumers prefer to mitigate the risk by utilizHowing delivery services instead.
The pandemic has overwhelmed delivery services with an unprecedented magnitude of delivery orders made a day – bearing many anecdotes of delivery slots filling up within minutes of them opening.
Our story comes from a bakery in London.
Tom (not his real name) used to serve the majority of his customers directly in his store through walk-in or pick-up-in-store orders, sometimes sending one or two of his staff out to handle the occasional delivery request.
With the national lockdown in the UK in effect, the majority, if not all, his orders now request for a delivery direct to their doorstep. For a locally run business, scaling from a dozen deliveries a day to hundreds of deliveries a day is not an easy task.
He turned to us for help in adopting technologies that the big courier companies use to handle their volume of deliveries.
Electronic Proof of Deliveries (E-PODs) and live delivery tracking helps alleviate customer anxiety, as they’ll know when exactly orders will arrive, reducing the number of calls his support staff receive regarding delivery statuses.
To race against time and deliver to as many customers as possible in a single run, he also uses Route Planning software to automatically generate the most optimised route – saving time and fuel.
In addition, the route planning software he chooses has an extremely fast turnover rate, meaning he can receive orders and plan optimised routes within the same day.
With these tools in hand, small business owners like Tom are able to handle the large surge in delivery orders to ensure their business operations run smoothly.
Besides having the technology to power up a delivery model quickly, Tom was also able to leverage on the use of a contactless delivery workflow to capture signature of the recipient remotely on site without any contact.
Power to the people
In this pandemic, small businesses are fighting on two fronts – the sudden loss in revenue through traditional channels (such as dine-in orders), and the costs involved in responding to the paradigm shift towards delivery-first operations.
It is imperative that businesses are able to quickly adopt last-mile technologies used by large courier companies to support their delivery operations without necessarily having those deep pockets of cash.
Traditional enterprise software comes with large overhead in terms of subscription costs and the special training required to operate the complex software.
In large logistics firms, there often is a dedicated team running and maintaining the systems needed to operate such software – Resources small businesses are unable to spare.
However, new players have emerged in recent years offering more affordable subscription plans to such services.
Additionally, these newer software are also much easier to use. You may even use them in the very web browser you’re viewing this page!
With competition in the field of logistics software, small businesses are now empowered to have the same leverage in handling bulk volumes of deliveries to overcome the business limitations imposed on them.
Small business owners can take to the wheel to transform their own businesses with route planning and delivery tracking software they can use themselves.