By Kawal Preet
Logistics will power SME recovery in the post-pandemic world
According to The World Bank, 90% of the world’s businesses are SMEs, accounting for 50% of all jobs and up to 40% of GDP in emerging economies. Given such staggering statistics, SMEs – which have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 – will be critical to the success of a post-pandemic economic recovery.
But what will drive this recovery?
I find the story of entrepreneur and founder of Made in Matcha PH Ryann Lim particularly inspiring. An alumni of the FedEx/JA International Trade Challenge (ITC), Ryann started his distribution business over a decade ago.
However, since the pandemic hit, he has been dreaming up ideas to deal with the impact of the outbreak. Admittedly, the scale of the COVID-19 crisis took him by surprise, as it did to so many other small and large business owners.
Recognizing that supply chains would take a direct hit from the cargo capacity crunch amidst national lockdowns, Ryann took a bold decision to immediately balance stock allocations to clients, retail partners and the Made in Matcha online store, re-positioning stock across all distribution channels and investing more in premium supply chain solutions to ensure business continuity. The move paid off, increasing sales, and putting the company in a position to capitalize on the opportunities that are emerging.
There is a lesson here. In a way, the disruption caused by COVID-19 has created new avenues for SMEs to accelerate plans that may have stayed on hold for longer in pre-pandemic times.
The availability of digital tools has lowered the barriers to entry, as more businesses and shoppers move online, following months of lockdown. As Ryann has proved, all it really takes to get started is the right frame of mind and experienced and capable logistics partners!
Agile Delivery Services Can Make All The Difference
The pandemic swiftly put an end to many things that were taken for granted and created new necessities. Social distancing created an immediate demand for fast, convenient, and contactless delivery services, something many small business owners were unprepared for. Made in Matcha was no exception; although Ryann initially carried out the delivery runs personally, he was soon overwhelmed by the volume of orders.
Like many SMEs, Made in Matcha turned to FedEx, to lean on highly customizable solutions developed for businesses of all sizes. Solutions such as FedEx International Connect Plus – a new international and day-definite shipping services – bring competitive speed cost-efficiency and convenience to business owners and their customers.
More recently, FedEx is responding to e-commerce businesses through the company’s Compatible and Alliances programs that enable e-tailers instant access to enhanced and affordable shipping solutions, allowing them to sell effortlessly on e-commerce platforms.
This kind of support can help SMEs instantly scale up their delivery capabilities and capture a share of a booming APAC e-commerce market – expected to be worth over US$1.26 billion in 2021 alone.
Going Global With No Hassle
Gaining e-commerce success takes more than a just good website. One of the biggest challenges for SMEs looking to tap into Asia’s growing markets is handling cross-border shipping.
Putting “boots on the ground” to look after local requirements is far from simple. The lack of a physical presence can add to the challenge. That’s why the right logistics partner that ‘gets’ the SME community can help to clear significant hurdles – especially for international shipping.
Business owners can focus on their profitability and customer engagement, while an experienced logistics provider can take care of tackling ever-changing border regulations or customs procedures.
At FedEx, not only do we have robust solutions to accelerate customs clearance procedures for international shipping, but our unrivalled global network could also be a strategic asset for SMEs to grow businesses overseas.
Most recently, FedEx expanded its air network with new intercontinental flights connecting Asia to the U.S. and Europe. With weekly capacity of nearly 1,400 tons, exporters in APAC can get greater access to customers on the trans-Pacific, intra-Asia, and Europe lanes and unlock the full potential of cross-border commerce.
Creating Seamless Customer Experience
In addition to a quality product, an easy process that tracks each step of the shipping journey and ensures precise on-time delivery is important to many consumers. Thankfully, small businesses don’t have to create the infrastructure to support a seamless experience themselves. They can lean on logistics providers, who already have the tools they need. For example, FedEx Delivery Manager allows e-tailers to offer their end-customers complete control over how they want their shipments to be delivered. Consumers can customize their delivery preferences, including time and location.
Automated shipping tools are also critical today and can help e-tailers prepare multiple shipments online in one go, thus bringing much-needed efficiencies. For instance, FedEx Ship Manager – an automated shipping solution – enables businesses to easily and quickly prepare up to 25 packages per shipment.
Digital tools such as FedEx Electronic Trade Documents enable businesses to submit documents electronically, giving them a head start on customs clearance and reducing overall delivery times.
Embracing New Opportunities
Looking forward, entrepreneurs, startups and small to medium-sized enterprises are likely to see even more opportunities from the ongoing e-commerce boom. In APAC, 78% of entrepreneurs have already reported success in their endeavors towards building resilient and sustainable businesses despite disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Kawal Preet, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, FedEx Express