We’re living in uncertain times. As people around the globe continue to experience disruption of normalcy in both everyday life and business, questions continue to emerge about how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the global supply chain. We don’t have those answers yet. But in the absence of certainty, we want to help today’s companies (and the people who keep them running) find the next best thing: peace of mind.  

How can you continue to make empowered shipping decisions, while at the same time trying to navigate this new and unsettling landscape? 

It starts with keeping abreast of the various elements involved in world trade. That’s the advice from Russell Young, director of economic development at The Port of Virginia, who says, “…we are closely monitoring the Coronavirus and its effects on world trade… We are in constant contact with our customers, the ocean carriers, to get a better understanding of how they are adjusting their cargo forecasts and their vessel schedules in response to the issue…We are passing [information] along to our partners and stakeholders to help them prepare….” 

But as the crisis evolves, markets become less stable and global trade becomes more unpredictable, what can companies do to confront all this uncertainty head-on?  

One answer, according to some supply chain experts, is to think flexibility. 

“Inserting a flexible solution to storage space and transportation into the supply chain can help alleviate some of the pain points related to all this uncertainty,” says Darrell Jervey, CEO of Warehowz.

This has already been true for customers of Estes Express Lines, who are finding reliable storage solutions in a time of great instability. 

“Our customers have already begun looking for short-term warehousing and this will only accelerate in the coming weeks and months as the flow of goods into the United States rises quickly,” says Pat Martin, Corporate Vice President of Sales for Estes Express Lines. “Thankfully, our partnership with Warehowz.com gives our customers a solution in this unprecedented time of need.” 

In addition to the peace of mind it can bring to customers, short-term warehousing may also soften the blow of increasing fees from demurrage, labor, and other emergency costs. According to an article in Ocean Insights, “…average demurrage fees can range from seventy-five to one hundred-and-fifty-dollars per container per day… [the fees] can rise to as high as several hundred per day the longer the container remains in a terminal.”

Estes Forwarding Worldwide (EFW), a U.S. freight forwarder and subsidiary of Estes Express Lines, is leveraging their nimble business model to help minimize these disruptions to customers’ supply chains.

“Through our expansive transportation network and ability to quickly make delivery modifications to ensure adherence to the latest federal, state, and local requirements we are able to help our shippers — despite rapidly changing scenarios,” explained Scott Fisher, CEO and President of Estes Forwarding Worldwide.  “We remain in constant contact with our shippers and will continue to adjust our logistics solutions to meet the changing demands and scenarios placed on them,” stated Mr. Fisher. 

Then there’s the opposite issue — a decrease in exports that has resulted in stockpiling of supplies here in the U.S. The situation also has implications on the supply chain front. China, for instance, is a major importer of American products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports a record-breaking January for domestic cold storage facilities, up 12% over last year.

As a result, Dr. Robert Brown, international trade attorney with Lynch, Cox, Gilman & Goodman, P.S.C., says that “more and more companies will be forced to diversify and allocate a major portion of their supply chain outside of China.” How to do that and which countries to consider adds to the climate of unpredictability. 

Answers may be found in developing a range of contingency plans on the storage and transportation front. Warehowz’s Darrell Jervey notes that companies like his specialize in devising practical solutions, particularly in times of crisis, when disruption and uncertainty threaten to impact your business. 

Do you need help finding warehouse space and navigating this time of supply chain uncertainty? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.