Do you have a contingency plan in place for bad weather?

While some areas of the United States have had a relatively mild winter for the first two months of 2013, as we roll into March another major storm hit the Mid-West and East coast hard. Heavy snow and icy roads will no doubt cause problems for eBay sellers in both package dispatch and delivery, and it brings about the question — do you have a contingency plan in place for bad weather?

Vendio, Auctiva, and Alibaba recently surveyed hundreds of small business owners on how prepared they are for a weather disaster. See what they had to say.

Although eBay’s idea of a great contingency plan is to simply put your eBay store on “vacation” when bad weather is expected, this is not always practical – especially if you’re busy battening down the hatches and evacuating before a hurricane hits, or if an unexpected tornado comes through your area and turns off the electricity in your home for several days.

So, what is the key to having a successful contingency plan? Well, the first step is to communicate clearly and often with your buyers. Since they are the ones that have the ability to affect your feedback and DSRs scores, let them know that there is expected bad weather for your area just as soon as you hear about it. This is particularly true if you are selling to an international buyer as they may not even be aware that there is adverse weather in your area, and they may not have a clue where in the United States you are located.

If you are not sure if or when the bad weather will actually hit, inform your buyers that there could be an unexpected delay and that you will update them as soon as you are able. If a buyer has just made a purchase, update them on the situation and ask if it will be a problem if there is a delay in delivery. Work with them as best you can, even if it means canceling the transaction an refunding their money.

As mentioned earlier, eBay does suggest putting your store on vacation and that can certainly help, especially if you have enough advance warning and don’t lose power – but remember that good communication is still going to be the key. Create out-of-office replies in advance that explain why you are offline and if you are online, keep your buyers updated as to what the status of their package is. In most cases, buyers are understanding as long as they know exactly what is going on.

About our Guest Blogger
This guest post is by Kat Simpson. Kat is a trusted eCommerce author, speaker, educator, and entrepreneur. Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is an eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, as well as a successful Amazon merchant. Currently Kat is the hosts the popular weekly eCommerce Podcast That Kat Radio

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