At the end of 2019, shipping trends were very different from what’s being seen now. Carriers were already struggling with the adoption of IMO 2020, a regulation issued by the International Maritime Organization that reduces fuel sulfur content to 0.5% from 3.5%. The industry was already seeing a degree of volatility in peaks and troughs in measurable analytics, but shipping trends were mostly changed by one unprecedented, unforeseen factor: the COVID-19 pandemic.

Freight in a port

The pandemic has changed the outlook and created a shadow of uncertainty that is looming over carriers trying to navigate this difficult climate. Traders are being forced to change their priorities to be able to survive right now, but now that the world is slowly opening back up, there is a hint of recovery to the global trade market.

Now, we can see some of the trends that are carrying shippers through 2020.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 took a major toll on supply chains around the world. We’ve seen shortages of virtually anything that’s being traded from another country. Now, however, consumers are showing a glint of optimism. Shippers are shifting their strategies to simply adapt with the way things are.

In this article, we’ll dissect a few of the shipping trends we expect to see for the rest of 2020. While we strongly feel that these trends are going to be seen over the rest of the year, we think it’s quite plausible that these trends could go on far beyond 2020.

1. Shippers are Going with the Flow

COVID-19 threw a major wrench into the plans of shippers everywhere, but it also taught shippers how to think on their feet and change when needed. We’re seeing shippers take on a new mindset, with an emphasis on doing whatever needs to be done as circumstances continue to change. We think shippers will be thinking on their feet for quite a while.

2. Shippers Will Focus on Safety

Shippers have learned that they have to focus on the safety of everyone involved in their processes, including workers and consumers alike. Putting into play safety protocols means a safer environment for all, and in the long run, it means that supply chains continue to move. We think that shippers will continue this trend because, at the end of the day, shipping safety is helping to keep the chains moving.

Staff using shipping automation

3. Shippers are Utilizing Automation

COVID-19 completely changed the way shipping processes are carried out, and we’ve seen time and time again that shippers are finding success by way of automation. We believe this trend will heavily continue for the rest of the year because it’s one of the main ways shippers can remain open for business, efficient, and profitable.

4. Shippers are Working with Other Shippers

The shipping industry has had to come together like never before to discover new ways to make their businesses work during these unprecedented times. Shippers are putting their heads together to talk about what works and brainstorm strategies that could possibly work, ranging from discussing the updates on the all-important Incoterms 2020 to effective operational collaboration. We think this trend will continue over the rest of the year because it equates to the survival of the industry as a whole.

5. Shippers Aren’t Missing a Beat

We’re seeing shippers take new opportunities, break records, and do things they’ve never done before. Shippers are working to be more productive than ever. Although the pandemic was not a positive thing, good things are being taken away, and this is definitely being seen in the shipping industry. We believe that shippers are going to continue to redefine their industry by seizing and creating exciting new opportunities.

Shipping containers at the port

Takeaway

2020 has been a hectic year, and the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the landscape of virtually every single industry. There are things that will never go back to the way they were before. In the shipping industry, we find no exception.

Although there are a long list of things that are forever changed, there are also many opportunities for growth that have been seized. With trends such as the ones we’ve discussed being seen, we think the shipping industry could potentially be poised for overall growth.

Could some of the problems from before the pandemic possibly be solved once things settle down a bit? Perhaps only time will tell, but we can see how things will be different. While these trends are going to be seen throughout the rest of the year, they will likely be seen for the foreseeable future.

Yes, the shipping industry has had a shaky few years, but we think that shipping trends like these are going to help provide a foundation that ensures the survival of the industry.