According to government data, SMEs made up over 99% of the total business population at the start of 2020 — and this is the reason why thriving SMEs remain the backbone of rebuilding our economy. Across the UK, SMEs are getting back on their feet, employing workers and providing important services which fuel our local economies.
At the start of the pandemic, SMEs were one of the hardest hit groups in UK business, with many businesses losing their custom overnight as the country went into lockdown. Yet it’s these same businesses that are now bouncing back, with many on major recruiting drives. How did they do this, and what can we learn for the future?
The SME small but mighty spirit is something to be proud of — they have been resilient because they have been innovative. News this month reported that 51% of small businesses have changed their operations in some way over the past year, including introducing online stores — that’s millions of businesses who have successfully adapted in order to flourish in the last year.
But it’s not just continual adjustment and sheer grit and determination which have got SMEs through the last year. The logistics industry has played a huge role in helping these businesses with warehousing, inbound and outbound transportation, materials handling, order fulfilment and inventory management, to name just a few areas.
How have logistics services have helped businesses rapidly adapt?
Over the last year, even between lockdowns, there has been a radical change in consumer behaviour. People have changed their shopping habits, preferring to order goods and services from the comfort of their sofa rather than take an unnecessary trip out. The unprecedented demand for online sales now looks to become ‘the new normal’.
SMEs had to make fast and furious changes and the function of logistics became all the more important, moving towards the centre of SMEs’ relationships with suppliers and customers. Unfortunately, SMEs often don’t have the infrastructure to create and maintain the logistics of delivery efficiently, cost effectively and on time — and some make the mistake of trying to do it themselves. Often with no prior experience, successful SMEs sought assistance from logistics operators to handle the entire process, from packaging to transportation and customs procedures. Without expert logistics help, their rapid change in business would not have been viable.
Freight exchange platform Courier Exchange has received feedback from members noting how crucial strong courier capability and advanced technology was in helping their businesses adapt and thrive after the pandemic hit. They have nearly 300 5-star TrustPilot reviews. At a time when SME owners were feeling uncertain about the future and vulnerable to losses that they couldn’t recover from, logistics companies were coming to their aid behind the scenes. The Transport Exchange Group has been providing expertise, and through that — moral support. One reviewer explains how invaluable this has been:
“When Covid and lockdown hit in March 2020, we lost all our work overnight, the entire industry shut down, and still a year on it is non-existent, putting my business in a very, very tight spot…thanks to being a CX member, I have managed to not only keep my company afloat by pivoting what we do, but also grow the same-day transport side of the business, which we will now continue to grow alongside our specialist work as that starts to slowly come back this year.”
How can logistics services continue to support small businesses?
Without the resilience, flexibility and agility of SMEs, the future of our economy would look stark. Lyall Cresswell CEO of Transport Exchange Group says:
“Recovery from the global pandemic offers a chance for SMEs to adapt and reset their ways of working for profitable and sustainable growth. Due to increasing demand, high-quality transport and logistics partners will be at the forefront of this as they help businesses to deliver products on time to satisfied customers. The more efficient the logistics, the more profit an SME can make for accelerated growth. At Transport Exchange Group we aim to provide the digital tools and access to a massive pool of loads that a courier or haulage business needs to adapt and to thrive in the future.”
The benefits of effective logistics services for small businesses
- Improved customer experience — delivering orders accurately, quickly and on time increases brand trust and encourages repeat sales and sales through recommendations
- Enables growth — solid management of inventory, transport and delivery practices helps businesses scale up to fulfill a higher quantity of orders
- Prevents loss — reduced risk of damage to products through optimal transport conditions and tracking
- Technology streamlined process — for complete supply chain visibility, real-time tracking, risk assessment, reporting and improved customer communications and service