The Effects of Coronavirus on International Shipping

The pandemic surely did impact international as well as domestic shipping widely. The major problem that arose was for those companies that were depending on production and fulfillment from China. These were majorly affected because of the strict measures that were put in place in terms of coronavirus prevention. International shipping during the coronavirus pandemic was more struggling. Let’s get to know more about it.

Luckily Hong Kong is a location that is still feasible for international shipping and order fulfillment. They are also offering a free port warehousing facility if you are not preferring to use the bonded warehouse facility while shipping internationally. Hong Kong is perfect for your order fulfillment because of its accurate location, which offers connectivity to worldwide locations.

How do Companies and Shippers Manage the Coronavirus Impact?

The pandemic affected global trade, which heavily depended on the Chinese manufacturing units, and came to a halt because of the reduced labor force available and business closures happening there. The global pandemic has imposed pressing challenges for both import and export businesses. Unemployment increased because of the lack of funds to help the businesses grow, hence the production rate also got affected widely. 

So let’s look at what we should know about shipping during corona times.

Reduced Air Freight Capacity but Soaring Rates

If you notice, with the virus infection surging, most international flights are cancelled or are flying at a reduced air freight capacity but with higher shipping rates. And the only flights that are scheduled globally are the bare-bones services that carry out the shipping of essential services. Most of the companies have to pay premium rates to get their shipments as shipping costs have skyrocketed. Even Ikea’s Singapore operations are going through a global crisis to get their shipments transported to worldwide locations. Most of the industries are waiting desperately to get hold of a container booking because of the uneven global economic recovery and pandemic. Last December the spot freight rates were 264% higher for Asia to North Europe route.

Just to keep the operations running, some airlines are still operating, but the shipping charges are way higher than usual. Most of the airlines are cutting down their services to and from the major locations that are affected. Even countries are rejecting the shipments that originated from China with the rise in pandemic cases.

Global Mail Slowdown

With a lesser number of flights commuting, they freeze most of the mailing services or are offering a slower service. Since the frequency of flights has become lesser, the parcels, posts, etc., are also delivered at a later date, which is the nearest possible option for the shipping carriers. Either the companies have to opt for shipping on an alternative route to help items reach the desired destination crossing all the pandemic restricted areas or have to wait for a longer duration to get the post delivered. Even the globally acclaimed shipping services such as  USPS, FedEx, and UPS have declared that they are experiencing significant difficulties in shipping and delivering. These shipping carriers are doing their best to help the items reach their destination without fail using effective methods to enhance the shipping across locations.

The major delay is because of the temporary route suspension in countries where the pandemic has seriously hit. Most of the services have even suspended the signature-on-delivery option too, to ensure that the staff maintains social distancing.

Here are some of the national postal services that have announced mailing disruptions because of coronavirus.

  • United States Postal Service
  • Post Danmark (Denmark)
  • Singapore Post
  • China Post
  • Posta Serbia (Serbia)
  • Swiss Post
  • Georgian Post
  • Deutsche Post
  • Posta Româna (Romania)
  • Hellenic Post (Greece)
  • Correos (Spain)

Reduced Courier Capacity

Most of the shipping carriers are working on a reduced capacity of employees and offer lesser shipping options. This is majorly because of the suspension of several services during this pandemic situation. These restrictions have led to mounting charges for shipping to major locations. You can always go for express shipping options when you are in a need of urgent deliveries. Luckily to transport vaccines across locations, UPS has offered tracking and warehousing in pharma cold chain service through its pharma division

Ships in Quarantine

The best part of making use of ocean freight is that it is independent of passenger traffic as compared to air traffic. According to the UNCTAD calculation, the ocean freight rates surged during this pandemic as shown in the below graph.

international shipping coronavirus
Abbreviations: FEU, 40-foot equivalent unit; TEU, 20-foot equivalent unit. Source: UNCTAD calculations, based on data from Clarksons Research, Shipping Intelligence Network Time Series.


The shipping rates have surged higher in developing regions because of the increasing demands, which were not met by the insufficient supply. With the pandemic situation still on, most of the shippers are blank sailing, especially the ones running through the affected areas. Most countries are refusing the ships to even arrive near their regions as they are worried about the pandemic. The rest of the countries are going for stringent screening processes to ensure safety.

Factory Production in China

As compared to the beginning of the pandemic, industrial production in China grew by 9.8%. The earlier year because of the outbreak of coronavirus, industrial production had dropped to 13.5% as shown in the below graph.

international shipping coronavirus

US Customs

The US Customers clearly mention that “the trade is flowing the same as usual.” With enough restrictions in place and taking special care with safety and preventing the virus from spreading, they handle most of the import and export businesses with care.

The Global Economic Impact during CoronaVirus

The pandemic affected the economy, causing unexpected repercussions. Businesses are growing, eventually establishing their presence online. The warehouses have become automated to help work efficiently and to support e-grocery. With online grocery shopping skyrocketing, it is hard to decide whether the brick-and-mortar grocers can survive the pandemic. Most of the industries are digitally transforming with better upskilling and enforcing proper data management. 

With the surging pandemic situation, the eCommerce industry is working hard to ensure that no impact is happening to shipment deliveries with the help of efficient shipping carriers. Even the tourism industry had a colossal hit. Last year, during this time India was picking up from the remains and helping people to move on even after the impact of coronavirus, but with the second wave, and the onset of new variants, the trade, and postal services have come to a sudden stop. Travel restrictions have become stringent, with flights being suspended resulting in more and more people stranded in the affected countries who cannot make it to their job locations. Even with these uncertainties prevailing, most of the businesses are still running online, focusing on customer experience, and offering uninterrupted services while managing through covid times.

Shipping Management Tips to Use During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Even in these pressing situations, it is ideal to keep the information intact and open when it comes to the supply chain so that it affects none. Let’s walk through some tips to manage shipping during this pandemic.

  • Always make sure you keep the clients informed about the delays, especially in the affected areas or when you are shipping from areas hit by the pandemic. Making use of proper tools to ensure that your communications are intact with your customers will help you upkeep their trust in your business. You can either make use of email notifications or any other means to keep the clients up-to-date on the state of the order. The quickest way to keep them informed is on your WooCommerce order page itself.

    international shipping coronavirus
  • Keep your communications open with your shipping services or warehouses to keep them updated about the current position of your shipment. You can make use of third-party order fulfillment agencies to ensure that there are no delays
  • Make use of express or expedited shipping options, to ensure that there is no delay in shipments.

To Conclude

Even when the pandemic is causing havoc, most of the eCommerce industries are trying their best to ensure that the shipping and delivery are done smoothly. They are implementing new methods and gradually helping the economy to revive. With the rise of online businesses, the eCommerce industry is showing a strong graph with steady growth, which is indeed promising, to many thriving businesses. 

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