Every business – big and small – needs a disaster plan
Don’t think it cannot happen to you. For small and mid-sized businesses, disasters can take many forms:
Fires that destroy your home, warehouse or office
Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and severe storms that damage office and home locations or take out power and communications
Power or internet outages – from a day to a week – that disrupt your ability to fill orders and communicate with customers
Personal illness or family emergencies that make owners, managers or key employees unable to fulfill their work responsibilities
So what’s a small business to do? Have a disaster plan in place – and train your entire team on the details. Think through these action steps:
Make sure more than one person has the ability to put your Amazon seller account on vacation mode. If a fire, flood or something else strikes and you cannot fulfill orders, it’s critical to go on vacation ASAP while you sort out the details.
Have more than one team member trained to answer customer service messages. Again, in the event orders cannot be filled or are filled late, you must be able to communicate this to customers as soon as possible. By being open and honest, you will avoid negative feedback and unwanted cancellations.
Train your team to understand that going on vacation mode to protect your account is more important than ensuring a flow of new orders. Don’t let the panic of temporary lost revenue tempt you into making business-ending mistakes.
Have a backup location for your inventory. Do you know of a storage space, warehouse, or other solution in case your current location is damaged or off the grid? How would you move your inventory there in a disaster?
Create a virtual “fulfillment relocation kit.” Know which technology and tools would be needed to quickly and easily replicate your fulfillment operations in another location – such as a laptop, label printer, shrink wrap solution, boxes, labels, etc.
If your business operates on platforms other than Amazon, be ready to leverage social media to communicate to your customers. Have canned graphics ready to go, and let your loyal customers know what’s going on, how they can help, and when they can expect you to be back in business.
Planning ahead can save you a lot of headaches in the end – and ensure your business is creating cash flow faster.
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Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where she oversees the firm’s client services team. She has personally helped hundreds of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running. Lesley leverages two decades as a small business consultant to advise clients on profitability and operational performance. She has been an Amazon seller for almost a decade, thanks to her boys (19 and 13) who do most of the heavy lifting.