Whether they sell baby clothes or medical marijuana, some businesses are looking at delivery alternatives after prolonged and uncertain negotiations, despite a tentative agreement announced last night between Canada Post and the union.
The tentative pact between the postal service and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was reached after warnings that mail delivery could be disrupted several times over the summer.
Jennifer Babcock runs the small baby-wear business Eaby Chic from Ottawa, and says she lost national and international customers because of the uncertainty around Canada Post.
“It felt like a dark cloud was looming over summer just because I wasn’t sure when a strike could possibly happen and how it would affect the business.”
Babcock says Eaby Chic orders were generally too expensive to ship with couriers other than Canada Post, so she warned customers there might be a disruption in shipping.
“Unfortunately I noticed a huge drop in my online orders for that reason alone, because if people want to order something, it’s usually for a special occasion — a birthday, a baby shower,” she said. “They were going to want it within a week or two.”
She decided to focus on marketing her products locally in Ottawa and is now looking at ways to ensure her business is protected when the agreement is set to expire in two years.
“I will 100 per cent figure out an alternative for in two years in case negotiations take a long time or whatever the case,” she said. “I don’t know what that will be yet, but I have a bit of time to figure that out.”
The future of marijuana retail
Medical marijuana producers are required to deliver prescriptions by mail and had been warned as far back as June that a disruption could be coming.
Tweed in Smiths Falls, Ont., received hundreds of phone calls from its 21,000 clients, concerned about the situation.
“We would have days where we’d have 1,200 inbound calls and contacts into the Tweed call centre,” said Bruce Linton, founder and CEO of Canopy Growth Corp., which operates Tweed.
“You can imagine a lot of people were asking, ‘Will I still get my ganja? Should I be doing something now? Do I need to order at a different time?'”
Linton said the company found other secure couriers and integrated them into its system. While he says Canada Post will continue to be Tweed’s main carrier, it will be important to have a range of delivery options when recreational marijuana is legalized.
“Once you’ve set up alternate systems, sometimes there are better shipping options for certain addresses.”
‘Win back their trust’
Canada Post spokesman John Hamilton said the tentative agreement has resolved the uncertainty that the negotiations created for clients.
He said Canada Post is committed to continuing to grow its parcel delivery service, which is the most successful part of the enterprise.
“We’ve given a number of our customers an opportunity to look at the competition and now with the ability to say, ‘You can have confidence in using Canada Post,’ it’s up to us to sit down and win back their trust,” Hamilton said.
“We may have a hill to climb there.”