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What is your business continuity plan? How about your business success plan?

When I think about business continuity I think about two things. First, is dealing with unexpected surges in growth. Second, dealing with an unforeseen disaster that takes your business offline for some amount of time. These could be considered two sides of the same coin, dealing with success.

I recently posted a blog to Practical E-commerce that discusses how to deal with unexpected success. Outsourced fulfillment and unexpected success. I think the critical point that I wanted to get across, has to do with simple breakdowns in your supply chain that can cause major headaches.   The example of a large supplier shipment getting stuck in customs for a couple days and generating a massive back-order day is amazingly common and really needs to be planned for. I won’t reiterate the entire article there; but, I recommend giving it a quick look to help you plan for success in your marketing and sales efforts.

Disaster Recovery for your shipping infrastructure is probably not something you think about a lot. Shipwire has had to. Frequent readers of this blog will remember the multiple blog posts over the past few years about USPS API failures during the holiday season. You can bet that after the first time we experienced that, we put in place some disaster recovery plans.

The Shipwire model allows merchants to place inventory in multiple global warehouses. This has helped some of our UK merchants overcome natural and man-made disasters over the past year. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Royal mail (the UK national parcel carrier, think USPS in the UK) went on strike earlier this year. I won’t bore you with details; but, Shipwire merchants were in better shape than most because we knew about the strike and were able to work out alternate plans. (See here for our running blog on the Royal Mail Strike). Additionally, many of our merchants had inventory in multiple warehouses. We were able to re-route orders to non-UK facilities in a couple of limited cases where the buyers needed the packages and international shipping was an option.

2. During the Icelandic volcano eruption a couple months back, air shipments were non-operational into and out of the UK. Shipwire had a variety of foreign (non-UK) merchants with inventory in the UK that were able to continue selling in the UK because they were not reliant on international air shipments.

Having inventory in multiple warehouses is an amazing business continuity plan and gives your business lots of options in the event of a giant sales success or a business problem.

I wanted to share a really interesting e-mail that I got from one of our customers who runs the foremost Tenkara fly fishing website. He is looking at Shipwire as a disaster recovery service because we can ship his inventory from multiple warehouses.

Hi Nate,

With the severity and frequency of earthquakes this year, as well as tsunamis and now volcanoes. And, based on the fact that my business is based
in San Francisco and I wanted to start working on a procedures guide, I wanted to share my thinking that Shipwire not only is a great fulfillment
company, but also a great BCP (Business Continuity Plan) tool.

Much of business these days is run “in the clouds” as they say, so in the event of business disruption, work can continue being performed from virtual
offices, or temporary locations. However, for businesses that depend on the flow of goods, and the sale of goods to their customers the so-called clouds
can only help to a certain extent. Should a warehouse be rendered inoperable, the existence of a backup, or multiple backup, locations can
save a business by ensuring customers can continue ordering and receiving their goods

I’d say Shipwire can also offer a great solution in the event a small business is disrupted by acts beyond their control. When an earthquake hits
San Francisco, knock-on-wood, I know my business will be okay because our business, while based in San Francisco, is not really located here. It’d be
a good suggestion to any business that they sign up for Shipwire to at least have an alternative inventory and fulfillment center.

Just some thoughts, in case you guys haven’t thought of it.

All the best,

Daniel at

Daniel, not only have we thought about it, keep a heads up for a few new features that we’ll be releasing soon to help merchants route orders to label print services or alternate inventory locations.


  • niel 04/05/11
    Business continuity and disaster recovery planning need not be difficult. Just need to carefully plot the best way forward. Thanks niel

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