Supply Chain Issues Continue

We know of the supply chain disruptions and the impact they have on the economy. We see grocery stores with bare shelves, inflation rising with scarce goods and even impacts on payment disputes among trading partners. At the same time, we see economies around the globe opening up and hitting growth numbers not seen in decades. For instance, the US saw a  booming economy with a growth rate of 5.7% for 2021 –  but will we see an end to the supply chain issues in 2022 or even in 2023?

Let us be honest, Covid will not be going away. As countries roll-out vaccinations to their population, you will see more countries roll back mask mandates and allow economies to get even stronger. However, the effect of all that positive news is more stress on already fragile supply chains. More people out and about traveling, shopping and dining out mean more consumer demand. 2022 will be a year where things will improve slightly at the end of the year but the supply chain disruptions will move into 2023. And we cannot forget that we have no idea whether there will be another Covid variant that may have an impact. This undoubtedly leads to uncertainty, especially in 2022.

Ports continue to suffer from delays. For some ports, like the Port of Long Beach, there can be a waiting time as long as 6 weeks. These delays further intensify the supply chain issue. Interestingly, this has led to some retailers beginning to hoard and use excess warehousing capacity. Again, this is a short-term issue but it further demonstrates the reality of current supply chain issues.

Of course, all of this has exacerbated inflation. Costs have rocketed for every mode of transportation in the supply chain. According to Bloomberg, there was an increase in trucking cost of 18.3%, a rise of 29% in ocean freight costs as of January of last year, and the cost of shipping by rail had the biggest growth in 12 months ever. Finally, inflation, according to Bloomberg, was the “highest in a decade.”

All of the existing economic factors, combined with other external issues, continue to support air cargo growth. However, supply chain disruptions were slowing growth because of labor shortages, quarantined employees, and shortages in warehousing at some airports. Moreover, the issues with processing delays because of the end of the year activities further drove cost increases for air shipping. Given the current conditions, these costs will likely be passed onto their customers.

We will continue to keep an eye on the supply chain issues and the impact on air cargo, but it’s very unlikely we will see significant improvements in 2022 – which means 2023 will be even more interesting.

Zoned Out

Sticking with a Superbowl theme I want to talk about zones, not end zones, but ground delivery zones. UPS, USPS, and FedEx each have their respective zone maps, and there is a direct correlation between zone and price, “How much to ship to zone 8?”  The next correlation is time, “How long will it take to reach zone 8?”  This factor directly impacts customer experience and by extension sales and consumer loyalty.

In the current industry state, all retailers are programmed to operate within the constraints of the zone models dictated by the carriers.  The available solutions to address these constraints include setting up multiple distribution centers or using warehouse and fulfillment partners.  These solutions can be costly and complex to implement but do help retailers optimize shipping costs and enhance customer experience.

At the 2022 NRF and Manifest tradeshows, I was able to view a huge variety of services, technologies, and people trying to change this approach. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Supply-chain technology startups raised $24.3 billion in venture funding in the first three quarters of 2021” We all know retailers and manufacturers want cheaper and faster, with greater transparency. So, my biggest question is, how do we start?

When I joined SmartKargo in October of 2021 I wrote a post about how excited I was to join the team.  Since then my excitement has grown exponentially.  When we power the e-commerce delivery engines of our partners like Volaris and Indigo, we disrupt the status quo. By empowering airlines to transport e-commerce packages on their airplanes and existing flights, we can provide retailers with an innovative solution. We can get a package from New York City to Los Angeles much faster than moving a ground package from zone 2 to zone 8 for far, far, far greater value.

For an innovative retailer, they can truly differentiate their delivery as part of their brand by moving their product further distances at greater speed and exceeding the expectations of their customer. And do it while getting far more value – because the airplane is already heading in that direction, in some cases, 3-4 times a day, this allows us to offer a cost-competitive with a ground rate.

Looking at innovative solutions like SmartKargo can help your bottom line and enhance your customer experience. You just need to worry a little less about the zones and think about faster time, greater distance, and higher value –all of which we need a little bit more of today.


Air Transportation Optimism Prospers

There is truly a reason to be optimistic – In case you had not seen UPS had a great quarter.

They beat expectations and beat FedEx and UPS with 97% on time deliveries over the holidays. The one thing I took away is, there are still great opportunities in the logistics market. Whether you are an air cargo company, airline, or e-commerce delivery – the opportunity is great, and the window is now.

There are still supply chain issues as the globe navigates Omicron and the pandemic. And we will continue to see these issues throughout 2022. We will see divergent changes in the globe. China has been in lockdown to stop the spread of Covid. Other Countries are beginning to move forward and dropping pandemic safety measures like Sweden. This will further open the opportunity for air travel as we get back to pre-pandemic travel levels. This will open further opportunities for airlines and extend into e-commerce specific revenue.

Air cargo is benefiting from the continuing supply chain issues.  The challenges at many of the global ports provide an opportunity for Air cargo companies to take advantage of the congestion and Omicron supply chain disruptions.  According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), demand for air cargo rose by 7.9% in 2021 (compared to 2019) and is on track to grow by another 13.2% during the coming year.

We will see global e-commerce sales reach $5 trillion in 2022 and $6 trillion by 2024. And countries like Mexico, India, and Brazil are seeing significant growth rates of over 20%. This is an organic opportunity in many of these countries. Airlines do not need to worry about affecting their current partnerships, utilizing their excess space in the bellies of planes can drive a new revenue stream by using e-commerce delivery.

All of us in airlines and air cargo should all be optimistic. We see logistics providers generating great returns and utilizing technology to make the companies more profitable. Countries will open from the pandemic throughout the year and begin to look at air travel for family visits and vacations. The supply chain disruptions will continue to provide opportunities for air cargo and e-commerce. Although countries are opening, they will be opening at a different rate will means air transportation may be the best option in 2022.