U.K. Postal Strike Prompts E-Tailer Thumb-Sucking

Basking in the instant efficiency of E-mail and other forms of digital communication, we tech-savvy types often look down our noses at "snailmail." But E-mail can't deliver a pair of shoes. And, as an ongoing mail strike in the U.K. is reminding us, even the most Web-proficient retailers stand to suffer when wrenches are thrown into the easily-taken-for-granted cogs of the good old postal services. The strike by the Royal Mail union, whose members deliver letters and packages throughout the U.K., began October 22 and it has E-Commerce operators wringing their hands as the holiday shipping frenzy is about to begin.

The nail biting began even before the strike began. A survey by Interactive Retail in Media Group reportedly found that 85 percent of E-tailers believed even the threat of a postal strike would discourage their customers from placing holiday orders. At least one retailer, TJX, decided to be proactive. On its U.K.-only E-Commerce site, TKMaxx.com, the $19 billion seller of off-price clothes had this to say: "Postal strike? Phah! For the same price as our Royal Mail standard delivery, TK Maxx is upgrading this service to our DHL courier partner for the duration of the postal dispute."