Finding the right words to describe 2020 is tough. It was a wild ride. Many of us found ourselves in uncharted territory. While VeraCore transitioned to a fully remote team (a first in 40 years in business), our customers took on a more significant, critical challenge – operating the warehouses that were busy taking care of us at home.
As we close in on a year of Covid, I wanted to pause and reflect on the changes we saw in both our personal and professional lives. I recently got my first vaccine shot, and the future seems brighter than it has in a long time. As a business owner, father, team member, and human being, living through this pandemic had some ups and downs we can learn a lot from.
The early days of the pandemic included a lot of time staying at home and away from other people. These early days of lockdown made lasting changes to consumer behavior. From less tech-savvy grandparents to Gen Z, anyone with access to smartphones, tablets, or laptops was now making almost all of their purchases online. This rapid transition led to explosive growth in the e-Commerce space. Our fulfillment customers are proof of this, many existing clients had massive growth and our customers added over 2,000 new fulfillment accounts in the past 12 months alone.
Although this past year has been overwhelming for everyone, it has been tough on 3PL businesses. The pandemic added another layer to an already competitive, fast-paced, ever-evolving industry known as e-Commerce fulfillment. New challenges entered the picture that previously may have never been a thought.
Finding good people somehow became even more complex. Government-issued stimulus checks and safety concerns made potential workers prolong going back to work. Loyal, long-time employees who were coming to work were putting themselves in harm’s way simply to put food on the table. Safety protocols had to be established for the first time, and in some areas, formal letters were needed as a form of proof for essential workers to break quarantine to go to work. On top of mounting staffing and safety concerns, 3pl customers also experienced some shifts. Depending on the product or service offered, some customers flourished with online sales (ex. PPE, crafts, outdoor equipment), and sadly others closed up shop (ex. event-based companies, brick and mortar retail partners).
Looking back, I am in awe of how resilient our customers have been to survive this year. For many at VeraCore, they witnessed first-hand how integral the fulfillment industry and those in it are. Seeing this grit and toughness to push through challenges was incredibly motivating to my team and me. It’s become even more apparent that helping our customers eliminate inefficiencies in this challenging environment is vital to their success and ours. The pandemic gave us an honest look at how vital saving time and money is in this industry.
This turbulent time also inspired me to make sure I took care of my own work family. We started checking in on a personal level before meetings, and we implemented a survey to check the team pulse every week. We added Zoom hangouts and happy hours to make sure we stayed connected as a company. On my home front, I am fortunate to be able to spend more quality time with my wife and two young daughters. I started making personal fitness goals and forced myself into a few 6 am bike sessions. Before covid, I can’t say we were so aware of our need to stay connected, support each other and take care of ourselves.
As we head into a new year, I am thankful for the lessons learned. I am incredibly optimistic that the 3PL industry will continue to grow as consumers expect to get their purchases faster. With more pride than ever and a newfound appreciation for the fulfillment industry, our entire team at VeraCore is working hard to continue to innovate. The world got a reminder that packages don’t just show up at your door through this pandemic. There’s a lot that goes into fulfillment, and our team is ready to make sure 3PLs have the tools they need to thrive. I am excited and looking forward to what the next 12 months will bring.