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Hurricane Sandy May Disrupt Online Sales

East Coast storm expected to hit land today.

Editor’s Note: Hurricane Sandy also affected North Carolina and Ohio.

Sellers who live in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. or are working with buyers in those areas will need to be patient, as Hurricane Sandy could wreak havoc on transactions.

eBay tells sellers in a message posted today on its General Announcements that Hurricane Sandy may disrupt communication, power and transportation lines in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Meanwhile, Etsy, which is headquartered in New York City, assures its customers that it is ready for the storm.

The Category 1 hurricane is expected to reach land in central New Jersey this evening or tonight, according to the National Weather Service. The storm is expected to bring “long periods of sustained tropical storm-force winds,” the Weather Service reports. A tropical storm warning is in effect for areas in North Carolina.

According to CBS news, strong winds have already left more than 100,000 residents in the dark in several states, and winds of between 38 mph and 41 mph have been reported in New York City and Boston, respectively.

Officials add that the storm may cause flooding in some areas. Between 5 inches and 8 inches of rain are expected to fall within a 48-hour period.

“I know members will appreciate any help you can offer, and we will, too, especially if we run into connectivity or power outages”

Etsy prepares for outages

Etsy tells its users it is prepared for the hurricane. Avleen Vig, a staff operations engineer, tells users in a forum post that though the marketplace has servers in the Northeast, it also has back-up servers on the West Coast in case something happens to its main data center.

He adds that Etsy spends a lot of time working to ensure its site will withstand natural disasters, and working with service providers who are trained to deal with such situations. He notes that these companies prepare in case there are outages or if centers run out of fuel.

“When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, several data centers in the area were impacted in this way,” Vig says. “They were able to keep running until the electricity grid returned to normal (which, if you remember, took quite some time), with almost no loss of service. Each of these components is regularly tested to ensure that everything works as expected when the time comes.”

Marketplaces urge patience

eBay encourages sellers and buyers to be patient during and after their transactions as Hurricane Sandy makes its way inland and subsides.

“We will continue to monitor these conditions—especially in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions—and will reach out as necessary to members who may become affected. Our thoughts are with you,” eBay notes.

Anee, another Etsy employee, encourages experienced Etsy sellers to visit the forums and offer their advice if they see questions they can answer during the hurricane.

“I know members will appreciate any help you can offer, and we will, too, especially if we do run into connectivity or power outages that prevent us from helping you guys as quickly as we want,” she adds.

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About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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