By SC Chong
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global economy will contract by 3% this year as countries around the world shrink at the fastest pace in decades, further describing the decline as the worst since the Great Depression. 
The impact from the COVID-19 pandemic is not only an unprecedented global health and humanitarian crisis, but is an event that continues to create economic shockwaves around the world. It is also anticipated that global economies will only recover by late 2022, one that’s heavily dependent on the success of a viable vaccine.
The pandemic has indeed brought global markets to a halt in waves, with gradual pauses causing great disruptions to the worldwide logistics and distribution industry. On the flipside, it highlighted the value of logistics in bringing relief to those who need it most while concurrently underscoring the need to help facilitate the immediate resumption of our customers’ business operations as economies gradually open up.
As an essential service provider, FedEx has operated throughout the pandemic with stringent safety measures in place and is actively boosting the drivers of recovery: namely cross border trade that will aid growth for the Intra-Asian economy, supporting and working with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and facilitating best ways to tap into the e-commerce boom, for instance last mile-delivery solutions.
In Malaysia, the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) led to a temporary suspension of numerous retail businesses. While businesses hurried to re-strategize and put in place stop-gap measures to pivot and adapt, we sought to ensure uninterrupted support for our customers. We undertook multiple delivery attempts to customers who worked from home or alternate addresses, quickly facilitated contactless deliveries for enhanced safety, and enhanced storage space to ensure capacity in handling increased inbound volume as required.
On a global level, running our own cargo fleet has allowed us to continue operating amid COVID-19, as we are able to flex our network in different ways to meet different needs. We increased our flight operations to and from our APAC Hub in Guangzhou, North Pacific Hub in Osaka, and South Pacific Hub in Singapore. Additionally, we also increased flights between Asia and Europe by almost 50% in April.
These efforts are made possible by our people. Our employees across the board are committed to our Purple Promise which is to make every FedEx experience outstanding by continuously delivering possibilities for our customers and continuing our operations despite an unprecedented healthcare crisis.
Protecting Our People
As the world’s largest express transportation company, we are heavily reliant on our entire team. With them, we are able to continue our operations throughout this pandemic as an essential service. At the onset of the pandemic, activating comprehensive health and safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) was our foremost priority – particularly for our frontliners who were in direct contact with customers.
We continue to procure and allocate supplies of face masks, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizers, and have facilitated ‘Working from Home’ where possible for our 1,500 employees throughout the country. We have equipped our employees with the necessary means and platforms required to ensure that remote working would be seamless for our staff and for our customers, experience minimal to zero interruptions.
Further, we have isolated our cross-border drivers to minimize contact with employees in the facilities where they are stationed. The drivers only need to take over their vehicles at the start of their assignments. We also ensured that our pilots who handle the routes to and from Kuala Lumpur and Penang are in strict adherence to the SOPs and guidelines issued by the authorities. We take #KitaJagaKita to heart.
Staying Customer Focused
All around the world, as countries that previously experienced the tapering of COVID-19 cases now see a resurgence of infections, there is a realization that recovery is not going to be linear. Rather, we will experience new waves that temporarily reverse the direction of recovery.
That said, support for SMEs will continue to be critical in building business resilience along the road to recovery. Singapore is one of our core markets as SMEs account for 98.5% of businesses in the country with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution of 38.9%.
With our global experience, FedEx is committed to support the continuing growth of e-commerce by providing sustainable solutions at scale and driving end-to-end supply chain management. A few initiatives we’re leveraging towards SME support include:
- FedEx Global Trade Manager (GTM) giving the shipper access to information such as the estimate of the Duties and Taxes at the destination countries, documentation needed and access to regulatory information.
- FedEx Electronic Trade Documents (ETD) facilitating the submission of all customs documentation electronically.
- Another key solution is the FedEx Delivery Manager International (FDMi) which is a global, interactive delivery management solution that notifies recipients of pending deliveries via email or SMS text message and allows them to proactively customize the final delivery date and time.
Apart from facilitating increased digitization for the customer’s ease of shipping, we continue to engage closely with the SMEs in order to obtain a deeper understanding of their increasingly specialized requirements. We regularly organize webinar sessions and participate in digital exhibitions as part of our outreach strategy – thus regularly connecting with the SMEs to counsel and equip them with shipping information and solutions they can use to expand their business into new markets and gain new customer bases.
The new normal has indeed posed enduring challenges to adapt to the new normal. As we facilitate the increased digitalization of logistics, we will remain in lockstep to maintain our continued commitment to our people, customers – from SMEs to large enterprises – and the broader community.
SC Chong is Managing Director, FedEx Express Malaysia.
FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company and currently ranked the 14th spot on FORTUNE’s Most Admired Companies Award 2020. With its strong focus on its people, processes and the community, FedEx Express Malaysia is an award recipient of the Kincentric Best Employers Award 2019 and the Sustainability & CSR Malaysia Award 2020.
 Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2020 [www.smecorp.gov.my/index.php/en/policies/2020-02-11-08-01-24/sme-statistics]