Is Your E-Commerce Operation Ready if an Unexpected Disaster Hits?
Among the many other challenges facing e-commerce companies, Earth’s environment can be merciless. At any given time, blizzards, volcanoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters may be brewing to complicate your harmonious operations. And if disaster does strike, your seller ratings can suffer even if you are not directly to blame for the resulting delays—so retailers must do everything in their power to retain control over the consumer experience, not to mention their logistics operations. Problem is, the very nature of emergencies is that they are unexpected. That means you need a mitigation plan in place before a natural disaster occurs. To quote President Dwight D. Eisenhower, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Testing your plan is key
There is no time like the present to tighten up your disaster preparation and recovery plan. It’s important your business prepares by not only establishing a backup operations plan, but also training your employees on what to do in case of an emergency. Testing your plan will ensure you are not missing any steps in the process, and that your employees are fully trained once the time comes to put the plan into action.
Communication goes a long way
There are many different components to preparing for supply chain interruptions, with communications being a key element. Quickly obtaining updates on employees and their safety, assessing the current status of your operations and communicating with your customers should all be as seamless as possible. If deliveries may be affected by a natural disaster, setting your customers’ expectations beforehand, keeping them informed throughout the event and then following up afterward could save you a lot of headaches. This approach will also improve the experience for your customers by giving them the confidence you have the situation under control.
At DHL eCommerce, we have adopted a strategy for staying nimble during an emergency event. Using modular operating sites, our parcel sorting hubs can be repurposed to function as “spare parts” when a neighboring site is taken offline. Our operations teams simulate outages at critical locations, checking to ensure the necessary resources are available at modular sites to divert deliveries around problem areas. This has proven to be an extremely effective strategy over the years—most recently during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, when we were able to contain parcel delays strictly to regions that were inaccessible due to flooding or road damage.
So our advice to all e-commerce related businesses is to walk through the responses you would need to employ if your most critical operational components were ever taken offline, and ensure you have access to the alternative infrastructure necessary to overcome those challenges. You’ll never be able to predict the exact problem and solution, but if your plan centers on using critical “spare parts”—as we emphasize at DHL eCommerce—you’ll likely be able to overcome anything with a little ingenuity.
What are you doing to prepare your business for natural disasters?
For more information on DHL eCommerce and our services, visit: https://www.logistics.dhl/us-en/home/our-divisions/ecommerce.html