For global logistics leader FedEx, the pandemic created a key challenge: How to build a future-proof supply chain network. While Covid-19 wreaked havoc on the global economy and disrupted transportation networks around the world, FedEx moved swiftly to ensure shipments continued to flow around the world.
“Thanks to our network and capabilities, FedEx never stopped and kept critical shipments moving,” says Kawal Preet, president of the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) region at FedEx Express. “As demand surged with the severe shortage of air cargo capacity stemming from the grounding of passenger flights, we’ve flexed our network and increased our flights. That helped keep packages and relief supplies moving.”
As the pandemic upended industries, companies had to make their businesses more agile and resilient to deliver value to customers and shareholders at the same time. To do this, businesses are building decentralized supply chains to move away from reliance on a single production location which can shut down overnight in times of crisis, Preet says.
A strategic shift in supply chain management mindset from “just in time” deliveries to “just in case” inventories is necessary, says Preet. “This model favors the increased use of multi-modal and more economical delivery solutions.”
Aside from reinventing the supply chain, businesses will also have to increasingly embrace the digital economy. While e-commerce was already booming before the pandemic, the crisis accelerated its growth momentum.
To tap into the digital economy’s rapid growth, companies—especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups—are stepping up their digitalization, allowing businesses to expand into new markets.
Transitioning these traditional businesses to online platforms can be simplified by partnering with the right logistics providers. FedEx, for example, offers solutions that help integrate logistics services into e-tailers’ web platforms in addition to day-definite business-to-consumer solutions.
SMEs—the hardest hit by the pandemic—are looking for support to return to profitability. “Nurturing SMEs and entrepreneurs remains a top priority at FedEx,” says Preet.
SMEs can capture global opportunities by leaning on logistics providers that provide convenience and cost savings while expanding their reach. Digital tools such as Electronic Trade Documents for faster customs clearance, and FedEx Delivery Manager which enables customized delivery services at no extra cost help customers achieve those savings.
Apart from providing small businesses efficient logistics services, FedEx recognizes that entrepreneurs often require financial support to fast track their growth. This is the aim of the company’s annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest (SBGC). First launched in the U.S. in 2012, the programme expanded to other international markets, including AMEA, in 2016. To date, SBGC has awarded over 200 businesses with grants and prizes totaling more than US$2 million.
Small But Significant
Supporting SMEs is vital for the recovery of the global economy as these businesses comprise close to 90% of enterprises and employ more than half the world’s workers, according to the World Bank.
To help drive the recovery, FedEx is committed to providing SMEs with the services and support to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities and expand their businesses globally. To cater to the rising exports from the Asia Pacific region, FedEx had in June added new flights, particularly on the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe routes.
“This is just the beginning,” says Preet. “We have ambitious goals ahead to continue playing a critical part on the path to recovery.”