As 2020 wrapped, we hosted a webinar to explore the challenges facing the last-mile logistics industry through the first phase of the pandemic. It was an especially challenging year for many, mostly driven by the grave health threats. However, throughout the entire pandemic, the last-mile logistics sector only grew fueled by the overnight shift in customers’ ordering habits. In this recorded event, two industry experts shared their reflections and perspectives on the obstacles the industry faced that year and the lessons they’ve learned. 

Participants included:

  • Shawn Marshall, director of operations at A and B Distribution, a distributor of Anheuser-Busch products, and nonalcoholic beverages from a variety of suppliers.
  • Dr. Shawn Binmani, assistant professor of supply chain management at Northeastern University, whose expertise is supply chain management. He has a background in the field of supply chain start of government consulting, as well as working in a Fortune 500 supply chain for a number of years before returning to academia to focus on global supply chain and specifically labor and human capital of supply chains.

For the A and B team, adjusting to the pandemic impacts has driven much greater flexibility in every aspect of their operation. With retail customers’ opening hours changing, they needed to be more flexible with delivery times as each customer had a different approach to stopping the spread. It was the A and B team’s job to figure out how to get product to all these clients at all hours of the day. And, they had to accomplish that while being short on labor due to some people being out with COVID. So they had to figure out how to increase the number of deliveries and decrease the number of employees that it took to do so. 

In concert with the webinar, we conducted a poll to understand more about COVID had impacted participants’ organizations. 

  • 50% of you indicated that their business has been impacted by COVID 19
  • 38% of respondents said that the need to adopt new technology has been top of mind
  • For many, adopting dynamic responsive technologies is top of mind 

From Dr. Binmani’s perspective, 2020 was quite the year. Looking at the raw numbers of what happened in the US, imports were at an all time high since 2002. And so when we think about how things are shifting both internally and externally, what we were facing – what Shawn Marshall was experiencing – was issues with labor and employment, which have persisted. At the time, the unemployment rate hovered around 6.7%. 

For more on the conversation, watch the webinar.

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