In the USA, e-Commerce is on the rise. How can stakeholders keep up?
Just when I think the e-Commerce boom is subsiding, another package ordered online shows up at my door! E-Commerce is expected to be a significant driver in air freight market growth of over $170 billion and a 4.26% increase this year, so there appear to be no signs of this momentum, making our industry more essential than ever.
The most significant challenge freight forwarders continue to face with the e-Commerce boom is the lack of available air capacity. This reduction in cargo space is primarily due to the absence of available flights, especially on international routes. During the pandemic, almost 80% of the world’s passenger airline fleet idled, and while many carriers are resuming operations, there are pockets of reduced space due to planes still being parked.
Freight forwarders are creative problem solvers, and that creativity continues to benefit shippers, with forwarders providing routing alternatives to other airports and seaports. Many of our members of The Airforwarders Association are arranging aircraft charter options for their customers with freighter planes and passenger flights flown with just cargo and no people on board.
The most significant recommendation to prepare long term for an increase in e-Commerce is for shippers to ensure they have an established relationship with their freight forwarders. Also, shippers should frequently communicate their specific needs so that the forwarder understands the nature and time-sensitive requirements of the particular cargo shipped.
While time may be an essential consideration, customs requirements and security regulations play an important role that the forwarder can navigate to avoid delays and unnecessary expenses.
Forwarders should be using this time to stay close to their customers, being adaptable, and staying informed of available shipping options. While the pandemic had a disruptive effect on the world, recovery is underway, making our services more vital than ever.