After Sandy, retail logistics a challengeThe devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy weren't limited to power outages and flooded streets - the storm had a serious impact on businesses across the East Coast. It put a dent in retail sales, wreaked havoc on inventory and prevented companies from receiving shipments of product. With Black Friday, one of the largest shopping days of the year, just around the corner, businesses in hard-hit areas are trying to make up for lost time and prepare for big holiday sales and get logistical operations back on track.

Preparing for holiday shoppers
Hurricane Sandy left roads flooded, flights canceled and ports closed - a disastrous mix for retailers expecting large shipments of holiday merchandise or special fixtures. Some businesses have still not received products ordered weeks ago due to the storm, while others fear their goods may be impossible to track down after the shipping delays. Many lost valuable holiday inventory that will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace on such short notice.

Even if retailers manage to get their stores in order by the time Black Friday rolls around and be fully stocked on top-selling inventory, the rest of the holiday season could be a struggle. After merchandise sells through on Black Friday, additional retail procurement may still be a problem. Flooded warehouses and destroyed goods could mean it will be impossible for merchants to restock their most popular products, and by that time it will likely be too late to place more orders, especially if the products needed are custom-made or come from overseas.

Shipping also a problem
Holiday shipping may also pose a problem for retailers low on merchandise or struggling to keep up with consumer demand. Retailers now have to continue getting online shoppers the products they seek in an efficient and timely manner, which may be harder than it sounds, considering some are still cleaning up the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Online shopping has played an important role in how consumers make purchases, and a recent survey indicated 25 percent of adults likely won't remain loyal to a brand if the company ships them an incorrect or damaged product.

With so many consumers hesitant to purchase from a merchant that has shipped them defective or incorrect merchandise, it is especially important for businesses to ensure that their logistics operations are running smoothly after the storm. Not only should companies spend extra time making certain their products being shipped to online consumers weren't damaged by the hurricane, they should also ensure deliveries are running smoothly in the event that a customer complains about a purchase and the situation needs to be rectified.
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