Sometimes it seems there's no competitor or industry Amazon can't conquer, but this month, its limitations became apparent when customers in Florida said it failed to deliver orders in advance of Hurricane Irma.
"Hurricane supplies delivered to your door? Good luck with that," the Miami Herald
wrote in an article on Friday: "Now customers are complaining about messages from Amazon that their hurricane deliveries are being delayed, sometimes with no time frame given for the new delivery - even on orders placed as early as Monday. (Prime normally promises two-day delivery.) That, while Amazon was promoting two-hour delivery in a "storm readiness" section on its Prime Now site."
Sellers are also concerned about the impact of the hurricane on their performance metrics. eBay promised to protect seller impacted by Harvey and now Irma - specifically, sellers won't receive defects for stockouts or unresolved cases with buyers, and their late shipment rate won't be impacted. (It appears buyers could still leave negative feedback, however.)
What's new this year - eBay is providing phone numbers
for sellers to get help in shutting their stores. "If you don't have direct internet access, eBay can help you make the necessary changes. Please contact customer service at 1 (866) 540-3229 and update them on your situation."
It's less clear how Amazon will handle hurricane-related delays for third-party sellers. "I shipped orders to Miami, scheduled to arrive today Saturday 9/9, but see the Post Office there has closed and plans not to re-open at least through Thursday 9/14," one seller asked
. "Obviously, the deliveries will be at least a week late due to the weather emergency. Will Amazon count the delayed deliveries against my Performance Metrics?"
Amazon did send an email to sellers located within areas potentially impacted by Hurricane Irma offering the following advice:
-If you anticipate that you will be unable to meet your shipping service levels, consider temporarily setting your seller-fulfilled listings to inactive.
-To help preserve buyer trust and avoid negative feedback, contact buyers of seller-fulfilled orders via the Buyer-Seller Messaging Service about the status of their orders.
said the hurricane-related delays of online orders showed there was still a need for retail stores. But Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey told the newspaper that in 5 years, Amazon will have the ability to do much better in handling hurricane deliveries: "Their artificial intelligence will be able to anticipate that you'll need emergency supplies, and pre-fetch the order." He told the newspaper, the moment the hurricane warnings start to go out, Amazon will ship out water and other supplies, and they'll just show up at your door.
Ecommerce is changing the way consumers shop, and events like Harvey and Irma highlight important challenges - and opportunities to do better - at times of disaster.