What critical role would the FedEx Express Life Sciences Express Hub (LSEH) in Singapore play in ensuring safe delivery of COVID-19 vaccines within the APAC region and globally?

Kawal: The LSEH can facilitate large-scale warehousing and domestic/international distribution for vaccine manufacturers, healthcare customers and even end users. It is equipped with cold rooms and freezers to hold vaccines at different temperature ranges and various packaging and cooling elements. The LSEH also features a gel and dry-ice packaging station to handle packed vaccine boxes with dry ice or gel to ensure that the temperature of the package is maintained for the journey.

It can also support outside organizations and hospitals that are not efficiently equipped to meet the temperature requirements or lacking in capacity. Should the need arise, the LSEH can facilitate on-demand distribution within Singapore, or to any destination within the FedEx network of 220 countries and territories.

Please share your perspective on how the transformed post-COVID-19 world would look like, especially for businesses in the region.

Kawal: The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed strategic vulnerabilities in businesses across industry sectors. It also helped accelerate change in new ways of working, tech adoption and opportunities for diversification.

The ‘new normal’ will see more diverse sourcing under decentralized supply chains. This will benefit markets like India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. This will change the pattern of how goods move and will create trade lane diversification to reduce dependencies on one country or one production location – which, as we have seen, can quickly shut down businesses in times of crisis.

There has been a strategic shift in supply chain management from “just in time” delivery to “just in case” inventory building. This model favors increased use of slower, more economic delivery solutions. To accommodate this, we offer a portfolio of services and delivery options tailored to different shipping needs including express or deferred shipping.

This new normal is also creating more awareness and understanding about the need and benefits of open trade. Small and medium-sized exporters are key beneficiaries of trade facilitation reforms as they are the ones most affected by complicated customs procedures around the world.

While in the long term, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements can boost international cooperation on risk management and help facilitate the movement of goods, FedEx will continue to play an important part in aiding smoother clearance processes by ensuring the right hardware, expertise and technology solutions are in place while advocating for the right policies in the new normal.

We are also witnessing the widespread and accelerated adoption of e-commerce. Companies are digitalizing in record speed. SMEs are looking to recover and grow by tapping online resources – they will move beyond local or domestic demand to target new regional and even international customers, growing revenue without the investment costs related to opening brick-and-mortar storefronts.

As a result, we will see a heightened level of integration between traditional supply chains and digital technologies. For instance, handling cross-border payments and the monitoring of customer deliveries are becoming more commonplace.  

We are already looking at new ways to stay agile and adaptive to keep ahead of our customers’ shifting demands. One way is through speeding up advanced digital offerings for the convenience of our customers such as contactless delivery that suspend the signature requirement for most shipments.

Other existing digital solutions such as FDMi (FedEx Delivery Manager), FBO (FedEx Billing Online), mobile payment and FedEx virtual assistant remain central to ensuring a superior customer experience. Solutions that involve AI, Machine Learning, and API-First approaches will be key to how we engage with customers in the long run.

Through the adoption of these new trends, businesses can quickly scale up in response to the widespread demand of such conveniences, benefiting from this widespread business movement that will likely endure.