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Written By: David Daeschler

2020 brought with it many surprises that have challenged the way we live our lives. Much of our time is now spent at home, but we still expect that the things we need and want are accessible to us.

Shipping and delivery have become the new normal. From food to our new stylish wardrobe of sweatpants and shirts, we expect these things to appear on our doorstep. This has put considerable strain on systems that were never made to handle the volume and realities of today.

As the holiday rapidly approaches, many carriers have had to put limits on what some retailers can ship. They are struggling to meet demand and can’t manage to grow their networks to keep up with the pace. The current and future state of the world makes the use of a single carrier a fragile bet.

Expectations for delivery are high and a single capacity or technology issue can render a network unable to meet the needs of consumers. Combine this with the need to obtain the best price and run your own fleet in parallel to provide the new normal of free shipping and you have a literal logistical nightmare.

Fortunately, as described eloquently by Nassim Nicholas Teleb, the answers to these problems are displayed in the resiliency and antifragility of the natural world:

“Nature likes to over-insure itself. Layers of redundancy are the central risk management property of natural systems”

As in nature, redundancy is the first step towards robustness. From each human being having multiple kidneys in case, one fails to genetic redundancy that helps to ensure a single gene defect does not render an organism unfit, we see examples everywhere. We would be served best by following them.

Using nature as an example in building the OneRail network, we harnessed the power of redundancy wherever we could. We aggregated carriers and couriers of all different sizes and capabilities. We built our platform on top of cloud services and ensured replication, load balancing, and failover were standard parts of our stack from the very beginning. Utilizing our delivery network means our customers have access to moving their important shipments around as they choose, no matter what may happen to delivery networks daily or even in years to come.

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But nature has also shown us a power beyond robustness that moves into antifragility. This means learning from what has happened and carrying that information forward in a way that makes the organism stronger with every shock and failure. The human body does this every time it is attacked by a virus. Part of our response is to fight off and remember information about the virus. This leaves us stronger by giving us immunity after the attack.

We move from robustness into antifragility at OneRail by utilizing up to the minute and historical delivery data to guide courier selection, routing, and planning. Every market is different and every courier in every market has different capabilities. The OneRail platform learns which combinations of factors work out the best to meet your SLAs and automatically tunes the delivery process.

The paradigm shift towards delivery isn’t going away and will continue to drive revenue from a new class of consumers. Do your best to make sure your delivery processes and processes that support them are robust and antifragile.