How Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting the Supply Chain?

Written by Anthony Charland
    

COVID-19-iconThe COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of all of our minds. ReTrans Freight is doing everything we can to avoid disruptions to your supply chain, but understandably, many customers and carriers have questions. In this blog, Vice President Anthony Charland is answering the most pressing questions as they relate to ReTrans Freight as a company, our customers and our carriers.

Company

At a high level, what are some of the things ReTrans Freight is doing to help ensure customers see a reduced impact from this crisis?

This crisis has posed unique challenges for our customers. We try to adjust how we service our customers based on their specific needs. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy; we identify, adapt and act based on the situation at hand.

Is ReTrans Freight noticing any breakdowns in the supply chain? What is ReTrans Freight doing to react to or help prevent these breakdowns?

We are noticing an adjustment in some supply chains, but not all. The most evident challenge that seems consistent among all customers and carriers is the state-specific guidelines for essential vs. non-essential. It’s difficult to manage which locations can accept deliveries, requiring additional steps to fulfill a delivery. In response, we are actively communicating with customers and carriers to ensure that everyone is up to date as changes arise as well as taking the steps necessary to keep our operation running at normal levels, even while working remotely.

What is the ReTrans Freight team doing to remain available to both customers and carriers?

Our main office in Fall River, Massachusetts, is open with limited staff. The remaining staff is working remotely to service our customers. Our disaster recovery strategy allowed us to quickly react to Massachusetts shelter-in-place guidelines with no disruption of service.

Is ReTrans Freight helping customers with any COVID-related shipments? If so, can you explain what these customers are doing to support the COVID-19 response?

We do have several customers in the medical industry, from personal protection to COVID-19 test kit suppliers. As mentioned earlier, each customer situation is unique. As some are adjusting to reduced volume, these customers are reacting to surge volume.

Is there anything else you would like customers or LTL freight carriers to know at this time about ReTrans Freight’s response to this crisis?

Please know that we are here to help. We have engaged in several outreach campaigns to ensure we align with our customers’ needs. We’d love to hear from you if we can be of assistance or even if you just need a friendly voice.

Customers

Should customers expect shipment delays? If so, how long are those delays typically, and are they restricted to certain geographical areas or shipment types?

Overall, we’ve seen very little in terms of delays. However, not all state guidelines are made equal. The restrictive nature of states like New York and California poses unique challenges for both shippers and carriers, including:

  • Adjusting to working remotely, which can be especially challenging for businesses dependent on centralized and/or manual processes
  • The inability to pick up from or deliver to certain locations due to individual state mandates
  • For some, extreme fluctuations in supply and demand

This forces organizations to become familiar with the nature of each state’s shelter-in-place order.

What is ReTrans Freight doing to help customers during this time?

We’re sharing important industry-specific information with our customers via phone conversations, email and our website. Most importantly, we are available to help as challenges arise. It’s difficult to predict every possible situation during this crisis. We’re hopeful that having us as a supply chain management resource to lean on provides some reassurance in a time with so many unknowns.

What can customers expect from ReTrans Freight in the short-term? What about the long-term?

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. This crisis is challenging each of us; it’s testing our character. We strive to stay true to our guiding principles to treat everyone respectfully and honestly. At a time with so much uncertainty, stable, trustworthy partners are invaluable.

Has anything changed in regard to how customers should be reaching out to ReTrans Freight right now? If so, what?

No. We developed our remote work strategy that does not require customers to change how they interact with us.

If a customer needs a quicker-turn shipment, is that possible at this time? If so, how should they go about this? If not, when do you expect this to be a possibility again?

Some carriers have discontinued expedited or guaranteed services. However, it is still possible if you engage the appropriate carrier. Reach out to our special services team and they can assist you in selecting the service and carrier appropriate for your situation.

How can customers best utilize ReTrans Freight’s eCommerce shipping solution right now?

Customers with an existing eCommerce strategy have provided an alternative to traditional sales channels. Having an eCommerce sales channel is a way to reach a custom audience you might not otherwise. At a time where states have such disparate shelter-in-place guidelines, it’s good to have a customer base that spans a larger geographic area. Ask our team how you might implement eCommerce shipping services for your organization.

How can customers best utilize ReTrans Freight’s software solutions right now?

If you are already using our web-based software products, you know the benefits of easy access to real-time information. It helps you manage your business more effectively and allows you to quickly react to situations to service your customers better.

Are there any carrier service disruptions that customers should be aware of? If so, what is ReTrans Freight doing to mitigate any impacts?

Overall, we’ve seen very little in terms of carrier disruptions. However, as noted earlier, not all state guidelines are made equal. The restrictive nature of states like New York and California poses unique challenges for both shippers and carriers. It forces organizations to become familiar with the nature of each state’s shelter-in-place order.

Carriers

Has anything changed in regard to how LTL freight carriers should be reaching out to ReTrans Freight right now? If so, what?

No. We developed our remote work strategy that does not require carriers to change how they interact with us.

What is ReTrans Freight doing to help carriers during this time?

In times like these, it’s so important to keep the communication channels open for both customers and carriers. We are having more frequent conversations with our carrier national account representatives and corporate sponsors. We are taking this time to talk about our common challenges and share information on how we might serve our customers better.

You’ve been hearing “We’re all in this together,” and we really mean it. We care about you and your business and are committed to getting through this unprecedented time together.