We have entered a time where, seemingly, interconnectedness is the new enemy, staying in is the new going out, and antisocial is the new social. COVID-19 has brought us on the cusp of growing accustomed to new norms and sounded a wake-up call in terms of how we live.

An unexpected start

Traditional brick-and-mortar retail has suffered tremendously, as countries have been implementing effective stay-at-home and social distancing policies to mitigate virus spread, while those worst hit have enacted strict draconian lockdowns. Inevitably, increased reliance on e-commerce has brought about a surge in online sales and tectonic shift in consumer behaviour, with the logistics sector, consequently, playing a crucial role.

Against this backdrop, and in the context of a severe and ubiquitous threat to public health, it is critical to assess the efficacy of e-commerce logistics and the supply chain.

Developers, landlords and tenants may look to re-evaluate their operational models, focusing on how best to mitigate or at least minimise transmission in the event of another contagion scenario. Considering the extent of China’s supply chain disruption in February and March, such exercises could prove invaluable to future-proof operations.

Looking to Industry 4.0

Historically, e-commerce logistics has been labour-intensive. However, new technologies such as AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things, collectively known as Industry 4.0, have allowed for greater automation of tasks, increased productivity, better utilisation of space, and as a by-product, reduced human physical interaction, which is a proxy for reducing viral transmission. This builds even greater impetus to embrace Industry 4.0 innovations.

Warehouse robotics

In recent times, the…

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