Though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic damage to the United States, forcing many businesses to close and industries to suffer significant losses, there are still sectors in the U.S. that continue to do well. The shipping and distribution industries have proven to be very durable during the pandemic, in part due to growing demand on suppliers to send produce directly to the buyer and also as a result of the increased wholesale purchasing by many across the country who now need to stock up on necessities as they quarantine.
For corporate customers, who are usually bulk buyers, the industry has largely remained unchanged. This is a positive, as so much else of their own businesses will have been adapted to fit with COVID-19 mandated restrictions. Although suppliers may be closing, the transportation of goods remains largely intact. Shipping and distribution (which, contrary to popular conceptions are not the same) is one are that’s continuing not only to grow as an industry, but recruit more employees too.
Shipping and Distributing
Whilst similar, the act of shipping refers more to the transportation of goods (and not necessarily by ship.) Within this definition, goods are manufactured and sent to suppliers. From there, shipping companies will transport them en masse to their buyers, which, until last year, tended to be wholesalers. Distribution has a slightly alternative meaning, in that it refers to the places that goods are shipped to, and the relationship with those specific destinations. Shipping and Distributing therefore go hand-in-hand, since the latter is the where-to and the former is the how.
How Shipping and Distribution Works
If we were to apply this to a real-world situation, such as with a more niche product like USB drives, then the more minute details of the industry show their influence. USB flash drives are a specific and particular product, one that is widely used across the U.S., and on average people tend to have one or two between them. Unless there is a need for a set of custom USB drives (for personalized gifts or pre-loaded information), generally people can purchase their own USB flash drives from brands like Sandisk through their online stores. From there, the flash drives are shipped from the supplier directly to the customer via a smaller or commercial distribution service like FedEx, or Amazon.
When companies tend to buy USB flash drives in bulk, the ordinary course is to go through USB wholesalers instead. Wholesalers will attempt to capitalize on the use of their shipping by promoting other items that can be sold in bulk too, and distribute them in the same order. Also as part of distribution, the use of the site by repeat buyers may unlock certain deals or perks, to encourage more of a business relationship between them.
During The Pandemic
With a slight increase in the number of warehouses year-on-year until 2019, it’s safe to assume that the industry was stable and growing up until the coronavirus outbreak. Not much has changed over the last year, except perhaps a slight deviation away from the more bulk shipping elements of the industry. As more domestic customers require the use of to-door delivery, the need to recruit more delivery workers to handle new demand has increased.
Fatj (accessible at hire.fatj.com) is one such company that is looking to hire drivers for companies that are still shipping and delivering goods. In the wake of the coronavirus, many people have taken them up on the offer, as a lot of other work has dried up.
With the exception of a change in methodology, (to fall in line with CDC guidelines on non-cruise liners for shipping) the industry is one of few that is growing instead of shrinking. With the coronavirus expected to be around longer, that growth could very likely continue.