A big winter storm has hit the northeastern United States and it has the potential to severely impact logistics operations, including package pickup and delivery by USPS, UPS and FedEx.
The severity of the storm is made vivid with this image from a multi-vehicle crash on I-80 which also shows a FedEx truck in the middle of the mess.
Expect more shipping delays due to winter storm
For sellers and online merchants, this storm adds another headache as shipping delays are already impacting all three major parcel delivery services in the US, but apparently are more widespread with USPS.
UPS issued a service bulletin on Thursday morning, stating that it is experiencing disruptions around its regional hub in Philadelphia, PA. FedEx and USPS have not issued bulletins for the area, but likely are impacted as well.
FedEx issued a service alert later in the day, “FedEx is closely monitoring the winter storm in the Northeast U.S. Contingency plans are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our team members and to minimize the effects of these storms on service. These storms often cause pickup and delivery delays and disruptions for FedEx customers. FedEx is prepared to provide service to the best of our ability in areas affected by the storm and as local conditions allow.”
As of Thursday evening, USPS had not issued a special weather alert for the region, but this tweet just about says it all. Give USPS a lot of credit, they are out there trying to get packages delivered in this mess knowing millions of packages are delayed.
Under the best of circumstances, a major winter storm becomes disruptive as logistics networks are built to move packages, not store them. Not only does the storm affect pickup and deliveries, but also the processing and movement of packages.
A seller in sunny California may not think much about a winter storm in the northeast, but orders headed to customers in or near the affected area could become stopped in route until backlogs are cleared.
Once a storm shuts down regional hubs or major transportation routes for just one day, the ripple effect will be felt across the entire logistics network, potentially impacting shipments that are not even destined to the affected areas.
With workers already working long hours under challenging COVID health and safety protocols, the ability for all carriers to catch up quickly will be difficult if not impossible if this storm turns into a monster winter storm.
For sellers already frustrated by delayed packages or located in the potentially impacted area, this impending storm may be the last straw that ends the holiday sales season for them.
Note: Updated 12/18 at 9:40pm with new tweets and FedEx service alert.
Connect With Us And Other Small Business Owners
Please head over to our Facebook Group for Small Business Sellers and interact with other small business owners.