Australian businesses are embracing technology to keep their freight moving during the Coronavirus crisis with leading freight marketplace TruckIt.net reporting a lift in the use of ‘contactless delivery’.
While multiple states and territories have announced the closure of their borders, the freight and logistics industry has been deemed an essential service and are therefore exempt from border closures.
“These are tough times for everybody,” TruckIt founder Robbie Russell said. “But it is essential we keep goods moving around the country to keep our shops stocked and our businesses moving.”
“Spreading those goods around the country, without spreading COVID-19 is critical, which means our providers and their customers need to keep their distance.”
Contactless delivery allows TruckIt transport providers (truckies) to pick up and drop off a load without ever coming into contact with people. Adherence to contactless delivery means any touching between customers and drivers is strictly limited.
“A few simple steps and open communication means freight can be picked up and delivered without risking anyone’s health,” Mr Russell said.
“Both customers and providers on the TruckIt platform are encouraged to utilise contactless delivery wherever practically possible.”
TruckIt.net is at the forefront of Australia’s rapidly-growing on-demand freight industry that is becoming an increasingly important part of the overall $100 billion a year freight industry.
The digital marketplace matches people wishing to freight items (cars, furniture, pallets etc) with transport operators that include sole operators with one vehicle up to large multi-vehicle businesses.
Customers simply list their item on TruckIt.net for free and receive competitive quotes from interested vehicle operators. The booking, transaction and delivery process is managed directly between the freight owner and the operator.
Since it was first established 2012, TruckIt has taken nearly 500,000 listings with deliveries covering more than 50,000,000 kilometres. At any one time there is about $1.5 million worth of freight projects posted on the site and available for truckers to quote on.
The freight industry is one of the fastest growing in Australia with the volume of freight carried expected to grow by over 35 per cent between 2018 and 2040, an increase of 270 billion tonnes (bringing the total volume to just over 1,000 billion tonne kilometres), according to Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).
The speed and reach of the Coronavirus crisis will be felt for decades. While we are all struggling to assess the impact on us personally, we also have organisations that have obligations and responsibilities to staff, customers and other stakeholders.
Establishing and maintaining clear lines of communication with these stakeholders is one of the most important roles of leadership and management during this crisis. Conveying a sense of calm and control will position your business to return to normal as quickly as possible when (not if) the crisis ends.
Here are some simple things to remember while communicating.
Health & Wellbeing Is Your First Priority
While the long-term economic impact of the crisis is occupying a great deal of people’s thoughts, we are still in the middle of a major, global health emergency. Your first obligation is to create a safe workplace. The number of cases of COVID-19 in Australia is still rising and we must do everything possible to reduce the spread to save lives. ‘Flattening the curve’ is our collective responsibility.
Until we have the virus under control, all your actions and communications with stakeholders MUST put health and wellbeing first. Always provide the information and resources your stakeholders need to meet their social obligations to stopping Coronavirus.
Don’t be an Expert
The Federal Government, State Government and health authorities are moving quickly to provide detailed, authorative information about Coronavirus to the public. Do not rely on your own experts, your ‘sister’s brother who is a GP’ is not an expert. When advising staff and customers about how to respond to the crisis utilise the range of free information available.
Don’t be afraid to remind your stakeholders that there are still positives. The virus is under control in many countries and Australia has a strong, resilient economy with the capacity to absorb even the biggest shock.
The current health crisis is TEMPORARY, and we are days or weeks from getting on top of it. People need reminding that there are reasons to be optimistic so don’t be afraid to talk up your recent successes or the underlying strength of your industry.
The situation is changing on a daily basis. The last thing your stakeholders need is an information vacuum, which they will fill with information from unreliable sources and their imagination.
Create the systems, processes and disciplines to communicate on a daily (or twice daily) basis. Send an email to staff at the same time each day, either first thing in the morning or at 5.00pm each evening. Assign responsibility and make sure this communication comes from a trusted, senior executive who has the primary responsibility for managing the crisis.
Create a Dedicated Blog or Webpage
This crisis could go on for weeks or months. Creating a dedicated ‘warehouse’ where you can host and share information is one way to bring some order to the chaos. In a quickly moving situation, having a centralised location where updates and the latest information can be compiled is key to avoiding confusion. Many organisations have already created landing pages dedicated to providing information about the coronavirus and their mitigation efforts.
We recommend that clients place a link to this dedicated page on the homepage of their website. Key information to include on the page:
Information about whether or not any of your employees or locations have been exposed to the virus. While you should not identify employees, it is important to communicate whether there are any active or monitored cases tied to your organisation or facilities.
Details about your contingency plans. If you serve clients in-person, include information about whether your locations are open or not and how you will or will not serve clients if you close.
Preventative measures that are underway. If your organisation is encouraging employees to work from home, reduce nonessential travel, implement additional cleaning procedures or take any other precautions to minimise the risk of exposure, share these details.
Links to external resources like those listed above.
A statement that the webpage reflects the situation as it currently stands and as this is a rapidly evolving situation, your organisation will continue to evaluate the best course of action and update the page with the latest information as it is available.
Contact information for your primary media spokesperson and leadership team member overseeing Coronavirus preparedness.
Equip Your Staff
Successful communication starts with employees and internal stakeholders. They are always your best public relations people, and public relations people always do best with a good briefing.
Now is the time for CEOs and top executives to communicate with employees and stakeholders and reassure them by stating the steps the organisation is taking. He/she should record an organic (not highly produced) 60-second video—on a current model smart phone—describing the current state of affairs, steps being taken (to disinfect surfaces and protect people), what is planned next and why.
This video can supplement such written communications as direct mail pieces, emails, texts, and social posts.
Assign People to Create Content
You should quickly appoint a dedicated person or team to take charge of creating and updating your response content, including fact sheets, media statements, Q&As and EDMs
In a rapidly changing environment, it is vitally important all your communication is time stamped. What is true now, may not be tomorrow, so treat all communication as a ‘point in time’ exercise.
Don’t fuss too much about style guides or templates. Your stakeholders will forgive you if your documents are not up to your usual high standards of design and presentation. It is the substance that matters. It is OK to compromise on these to ensure timely and consistent communication.
Prepare for Media Enquiries
Consider the immediate development of media statements for key events/risks that you may be faced with. These statements can be provided to media who make an enquiry, be posted on your website and social media channels. They are important too for your employees and other stakeholders.
Consider the communications needed for the closure of an office or facility, staff member(s) contracting the illness, or unavailability of a key product or service.
Clear communication is necessary, as is the provision of updates as required. Ensure consistency in the nominated spokesperson and tone of voice.
Be Reactive and Engaged on Social Media
In the confusion of managing a business during a crisis, some of the simple things often get forgotten. Monitoring and responding to social media enquiries is sometimes the first victim of threat assessment.
It’s vital that your team are focused on social monitoring during a time of crisis. Any negative social media mentions should be dealt with immediately and with consistency. Any questions should be answered quickly and respectfully. There should be sections of your plan dedicated solely to social media crisis management.
We are all entering a new world, but many of the old rules for effective communication remain. Be open, honest and proactive. Your stakeholders will reward you for it.
Australia’s lack of toilet paper has made headlines this week thanks to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, with frenzied shoppers fighting (literally) for the last remaining packs of dunny rolls in some sort of feverish, dystopian battle royale.
Coronavirus refers to a family of virus that contain the common cold, bronchitis and other respiratory infections including SARS. What makes COVID-19 hazardous is it’s ability to transfer from animals to humans, it’s ability to mutate rapidly, and that no vaccine exists for it at present.
What COVID-19 doesn’t do is cause spectacular, prolonged bouts of diarrhoea that would necessitate the need for the entire country to go out and buy their bodyweight in toilet paper.
Why are people stocking up on toilet paper?
Due to our reliance on overseas production of literally everything, pandemic lockdowns have had significant impacts on supply chains worldwide. Uninformed masses picked up on a Hong Kong based political journalist that reported that toilet paper supply would be affected. Now we all get to experience the absolute depths of human depravity in an aisle designed to clean up our undesirable actions.
Should you stock up on toilet paper too?
No. Obviously if you’ve run out at home, you’re probably 💩 out of luck now, but there is no point in committing to a selfish bulk buy. Only 40% of our toilet paper is imported from overseas, but for those of us who care about what we wipe our bums with, Kimberly-Clark (Kleenex) has Australian manufacturing facility with ample supply and 24-hour manufacturing.
Selfie from a Kimberly-Clark worker in their warehouse.
Why all the hype?
We are social creatures, and a crisis like this (perpetuated by the media and the government’s insistence on multiple daily press conferences) is prompting the most anti-social behaviour in recent memory. Fear of missing out (FOMO) due to a supply:demand imbalance is a key motivator for any kind of hype. After all, nobody wants to resort to using a sock or ice-cold bidet.
It goes without saying that we have a herd mentality when it comes to objects or concepts that we as a community deem desirable, from necessities like toilet paper, to novelty or luxury items like handbags or shiny precious metals, even intangible things like intellectual property or cryptocurrency (or fiat currency for that matter).
Hype doesn’t stop – or start – with toilet paper, the earliest noteworthy instance of baseless stock shortfall triggering this kind of panic was “Tulip Mania”. Tulip Mania was a dark time in 17th Century Holland where the humble tulip flower was the must-have item to prove your social status – or what the kids nowadays call clout.
Tulip bulbs fetched nearly 10 times a person’s annual salary at their peak, and due to scarcity the resale market was the primary cause of skyrocketing prices. Tulips take nearly a decade to flower from a seed, so bulbs naturally fetched a premium.
The tulip bubble lasted less than half a year, with Dutch investors wallowing in a pit of worthless tulip bulbs they paid so much for.
A Satire of Tulip Mania (Jan Brueghel the Younger (1640)) depicts tulip maniacs as brainless monkeys.
Sick Shoes, Bro
In more recent times, Bitcoin was proclaimed by many to be the modern equivalent of Tulip Mania, which has been covered ad nauseam by nearly every blog on the internet.
I’m a big sneaker fan, so I am at the coalface of the sneaker hype ecosystem in my spare time. The sneaker resale game is a US$2 billion dollar market that is projected to reach US$6 billion by 2025.
Jeff Staple’s Nike SB Dunk “Pigeon” release sparked riots in New York in 2005.
Jeff Staple made headlines in 2005 when he released his Nike SB Dunk “Pigeon” with sneakerheads lining up around the block for a chance to buy a pair of these limited edition shoes. Riots were reported over these pigeon-emblazoned kicks which now sell for over AU$20,000 on sneaker resale marketplaces like StockX.
In the 15 years since, the demand for limited edition shoes has only increased, with heavyweight collaborators like Michael Jordan (Basketball the legendary Nike Air Jordan), Virgil Abloh (Off-White and Louis Vuitton Creative Director), Kanye West (Rapper turned reality TV husband), Travis Scott (Rapper and owner of giant inflatable version of his own head) and the late Kobe Bryant all carving out a significant chunk of the industry with their own signature shoe lines.
A very sick Michael Jordan during the legendary Game 5 comeback victory in 1997. His Airness wears a pair of “Flu Game” Jordan 12’s which maintain a cult following. Sick shoes indeed.
Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Hype transcends the shoe and personal hygiene industries, retailers worldwide have taken the collaborative bull by the horns and successfully leveraged it for products as mundane as homewares. Flat-pack furniture and sales maze juggernaught IKEA frequently collaborate with creatives worldwide. Most recently was a collaboration with Off-White’s Virgil Abloh in November.
IKEA x Virgil Abloh MARKERAD collection featuring a wet grass rug, giant IKEA receipt, paper bags and a broken mirror.
IKEA’s foodcourt was packed, and it wasn’t for $1 hot dogs.
The turnout was huge, I got there half an hour before the launch was due to start and IKEA had already allocated all of the tickets they had allocated for the products an hour before I got there. More than 20 people had camped out overnight to get their hands on furniture, which featured a backlit Mona Lisa, a chair with a doorstop on one leg, and a green shag pile rug with “WET GRASS” written on it.
Gordon, a hype reseller who does this full time.
I met up with Gordon, a reseller who quit his day job to attend releases like this as his primary source of income. Gordon has a contract with a sneaker resale store in Brisbane and has been lining up for things professionally for over 18 months.
Before the first half of the allocated numbers had been called, the Mona Lisa had already sold out. By the end of the day, the only items remaining were a small IKEA toolkit with a “HOMEWORK” embellishment on the lid. Clearly hypebeasts aren’t the DIY type.
You’ll be pleased to know that Gordon got me my clock, which I’m not too proud to admit that I paid a premium on over RRP – but that’s par for the course when it comes to the resale market.
My MARKERAD clock, featuring Virgil Abloh’s trademark quotation marks which are both fashionable and incredibly difficult to use as an actual clock.
Befriend The Bar Keeper
Switching back to grocery store wars for a quick final case study, Bar Keepers’ Friend is a canned abrasive cleaning powder that has been produced since 1882. It had a humble single facing allocation in the cleaning aisle in your local supermarket, but then something strange happened earlier this year.
Bar Keepers’ Friend, still relevant in 2020 after nearly 140 years.
Social media discovered that this humble little can could do the unthinkable: it could obliterate the calcified buildup on your shower screens and brighten the kitchen sink with minimal effort. Consequently, the $8 can has been sold out for months despite assurances from Coles and Woolworths that they will meet demand.
Will Barkeeper’s Friend attract a 4-pack-per-customer limit or will it go the way of the tulip? Either way, retailers are cleaning up on the hype.
If the COVID-19 panic is getting you down, here is an incredible Simpsons mashup to lighten the mood:
The South East Queensland (SEQ) land market continues to build momentum with sales volumes for the three months to the end of December coming in at the second highest level in 18 months, according to new research by Oliver Hume.
The data was compiled by Oliver Hume Research by analysing more than 1,300 transactions across more than 150 projects across Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redland local government areas.
Oliver Hume National Head of Research George Bougias said the land market finished the year strongly after tight lending conditions and the Federal election impacted confidence in the first half.
“Although the December sales figures softened after the peak of the September quarter, the three months to December recorded the second highest sales rate for 2019 despite the December quarter typically being a slow period,” he said.
Mr Bougias said developer incentives, low interest rates and government backed buyer incentives continue to underpin the relatively positive market conditions.
“Altogether, these factors are creating a sense of optimism moving into 2020,” he said.
Median Lot Prices
5 Year Change
Gold Coast (C)
Moreton Bay (R)
SOURCE: Oliver Hume Research.
The Oliver Hume research showed median prices remained relatively stable over the December quarter, rounding out a year that has delivered average median price growth of 6.6% across all municipalities.
Logan (23% market share) retained its title as the most popular destination for new land buyers in the quarter, followed by Ipswich (22%) and the Gold Coast (18%).
While Logan beat Ipswich for total sales, Ipswich continues to lead the charge for price growth. The median lot price in the Ipswich LGA, at $221,775, grew 1% since September quarter and 7% since December 2018.
The Gold Coast market continues to be impacted by a shortage of large, quality lots, despite continued strong demand from buyers. The lack of available lots and the intensifying buyer demand will see the remaining lots snapped up quickly with little supply in sight.
Mr Bougias said the SEQ market remained one of the most stable in the country, delivering consistent year on year growth underpinned by Queensland’s steady population growth.
“The land market in the south east corner of Queensland has been relatively stable over the last few years and has avoided much of the extreme highs and lows of the southern markets,” he said.
“While sales volumes were subdued in the first half as a result of the election, the full impact of lower interest rates, developer incentives and increasing demand flowed through in the second half,” he said.
Oliver Hume Chief Operating Officer Julian Coppini said while affordability remained the key driver behind land sales, lot availability played a major role over the quarter.
“There was an increase in lots available above 400sqm over the three months to December, driving up the sales numbers with many buyers seeing the value in greater land size,” he said. “A large portion of the lots sold sit just over 400sqm, most commonly the 420sqm block.”
You might have fallen for someone’s attempt to disinform you about current events. But it’s not your fault.
Even the most well-intentioned news consumers can find today’s avalanche of political information difficult to navigate. With so much news available, many people consume media in an automatic, unconscious state – similar to knowing you drove home but not being able to recall the trip.
And that makes you more susceptible to accepting false claims.
But, as the 2020 elections near, you can develop habits to exert more conscious control over your news intake. I teach these strategies to students in a course on media literacy, helping people become more savvy news consumers in four simple steps.
1. Seek out your own political news
Like most people, you probably get a fair amount of your news from apps, sites and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Apple News and Google. You should change that.
These are technology companies – not news outlets. Their goal is to maximize the time you spend on their sites and apps, generating advertising revenue. To that end, their algorithms use your browsing history to show you news you’ll agree with and like, keeping you engaged for as long as possible.
That means instead of presenting you with the most important news of the day, social media feed you what they think will hold your attention. Most often, that is algorithmically filtered and may deliver politically biased information, outright falsehoods or material that you have seen before.
Instead, regularly visit trusted news apps and news websites directly. These organizations actually produce news, usually in the spirit of serving the public interest. There, you’ll see a more complete range of political information, not just content that’s been curated for you.
2. Use basic math
Untrustworthy news and political campaigns often use statistics to make bogus claims – rightfully assuming most readers won’t take the time to fact-check them.
Simple mathematical calculations, which scholars call Fermi estimates or rough guesstimates, can help you better spot falsified data.
Murder statistics can be found in, among other places, the FBI’s statistics on violent crime. They estimate that in 2018 there were 16,214 murders in the U.S. If the meme’s figure were accurate, it would mean that nearly two-thirds of U.S. murders were committed by the “illegal immigrants” the meme alleged.
Next, find out how many people were living in the U.S. illegally. That group, most news reports and estimates suggest, numbers about 11 million men, women and children – which is only 3% of the country’s 330 million people.
Just 3% of people committed 60% of U.S. murders? With a tiny bit of research and quick math, you can see these numbers just don’t add up.
Also beware of the human tendency to believe what’s in front of your eyes. Video content is perceived as more trustworthy – even though deepfake videos can be very deceiving. Think critically about how you determine something is accurate. Seeing – and hearing – should not necessarily be believing. Treat video content with just as much skepticism as news text and memes, verifying any facts with news from a trusted source.
4. Think beyond the presidency
A final bias of news consumers and, as a result, news organizations has been a shift toward prioritizing national news at the expense of local and international issues. Leadership in the White House is certainly important, but national news is only one of four categories of information you need this election season.
Informed voters understand and connect issues across four levels: personal interests – like a local sports team or health care costs, news in their local communities, national politics and international affairs. Knowing a little in each of these areas better equips you to evaluate claims about all the others.
For example, better understanding trade negotiations with China could provide insight into why workers at a nearby manufacturing plant are picketing, which could subsequently affect the prices you pay for local goods and services.
Big businesses and powerful disinformation campaigns heavily influence the information you see, creating personal and convincing false narratives. It’s not your fault for getting duped, but being conscious of these processes can put you back in control.