The Northeast storm causes package delivery delays

January 27, 2015 01:37 PM

A massive winter storm that dropped up to 30 inches of snow on parts of New England and more than a foot of snow elsewhere throughout the Northeast has presented headaches for shipping companies and some e-retailers, while others are viewing the storm as an opportunity to drive sales.

UPS Inc. cancelled deliveries and pickups to six states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont—as well as parts of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania due to the storm. In total, UPS says about 4,200 ZIP codes  are affected by the cancellations.

The U.S. Postal Service similarly posted a notice on its web site warning that “strong winds and near-blizzard conditions will continue to make travel and mail delivery nearly impossible.” Several of its processing plants suspended operations today, including locations throughout Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which will likely delay some merchants’ orders.

FedEx Corp. is also warning consumers of possible delays and service disruptions throughout the Northeast. Shipping companies weren’t the only ones affected by the storm.

Online grocery retailer FreshDirect LLC, No. 80 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, canceled Tuesday deliveries and says it will only have limited deliveries tomorrow. And New York-based Inc. says it is notifying customers of changes in delivery dates.

Online marketplace Etsy Inc. (No. 30) is urging its sellers to “heed warnings from local officials and stay safe during winter weather,” even if that means orders might be delayed.

Numerous New England-based retailers have closed their offices due to the weather. Among them: Boston-based online street apparel retailer Karmaloop Inc. (No. 134); Cranston, RI-based jewelry retailer Ross-Simons (No. 213); Plymouth, MA-based web only retailer SmartPak Equine (No. 249); Cranston, RI.-based jewelry retailer Alex and Ani LLC (No. 342); and Littleton, MA-based Dover Saddlery Inc. (No. 360).; and Somerville, MA-based online marketplace The Grommet (No. 415).

While The Grommet’s offices are closed, co-founder and CEO Jules Pieri says the online marketplace’s employees are working from home. The Grommet, which has a warehouse in Pennsylvania, does not expect too many weather-related hiccups from the orders it fulfills on its own. However, Makers, the company’s name for product creators also fulfill some orders and some of those shipments from Makers based in New England may encounter delays, Pieri says. “We anticipate a day or two delay caused by the overall disruption to freight carriers,” she says.  

Another e-retailer, SmartPak Equine, says its fulfillment team went into overdrive on Monday, processing as many orders in a day as it generally does in a week so it could ship orders in advance of the storm. A customer service rep says the retailer's offices are closed today and likely will be tomorrow, but customer service agents are working from home “as long as they have power.”

Dover Saddlery, meanwhile, closed its main office and warehouse today but continues to take orders. While it isn’t shipping orders today, it plans to resume fulfillment operations tomorrow.

Some merchants are using the storm as a marketing opportunity. Karmaloop is offering shoppers 25% off almost everything in the store using the code JUNONO and 40% off select items using the code SNOWMAGEDDON. Boston-based online shoe retailer Inc. (No. 100) is similarly offering shoppers 25% off plus free shipping and returns using the code SNOWDAY15 through the end of the day on Tuesday.




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