eBusiness professionals have disaster recovery plans in place to deal with nearly annual storms across the country. How many times have we heard of a snow storm November and December slamming formerly robust holiday sales? However, Sandy has put the northeast in uncharted waters. The extent of the challenges we face in the nation's most populous region is vast and varied: Gas, fuel and water shortages, road closures, and electrical outages affect both homes and businesses throughout the area. NYC is an odd microcosm of the variety of issues we face: Below 23rd Street has water but no electricity and no subway service. By contrast, north of 23rd Street – while it’s not business as usual – life is closer to normal. Yet, in the outer boroughs and the tri-state area, the situation is often much, much more dire.
I write this from refuge at my brother-in-law’s apartment at 100th Street because we lost power at home in Tribeca. Since we are safe, I am more frustrated by lack of battery power and Wi-Fi variability than I am with the lack of electricity for other things. I felt so cut off without internet access. To see crowds of people leaning up against closed Starbucks locations’ outer walls to access Wi-Fi is an indication of how digital technology has become so critical to our daily lives. Now, fully connected, I am able to work at near full capacity in spite of the devastation around me – I just wish my brain was up to my digital capabilities.
Across a broad search on how eBusinesses are dealing with the situation, a number of initiatives arose:
- Local businesses are already using digital means to try to recover.
o Daily deal sites are offering big discounts in New Jersey and lower Manhattan. See the Adage article link here.
o Hyper local information sites get spikes in traffic during these dire times. Helpful to know as we prepare for future events (God forbid) where we need to contact our employees and customers. Another Adage article outlines the behavior.
- eBusiness look to accommodate their customer needs by easing costs.
o Banks, municipal transportation services and the like are waiving fees to accommodate their customers during this time. The article here sites these efforts.
- Shipping service information is available yet often understandably vague.
o Most retailers post notices of shipping delays – some very hard to find – that alert customers to vague delay information, e.g. the search results for "hurricane sandy shipping" on Amazon.com include the following "Delivery Service Delays: Due to the severe weather in the Northeastern United States, Amazon.com deliveries may be delayed. Our fulfillment centers in the region are closed, many roads and highways are closed, and our shipping carriers have shut down their networks in the area of the storm."
o Others note that they are not shipping for the time being, e.g. the much noted Fab.com.
- eBusinesses do use their accessibility and reach to try to help.
o Amazon.com is collecting donations to the American Red Cross on the home page.
Would love to hear stories of how you eBusiness professionals have used your digital access to keep your people safe, track recovery efforts, and manage your business in light of Sandy. Your experiences will help others make the right decisions in the future.