Postal strikes worry e-tailers

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Postal strike could discourage online shoppers

More than three quarters of online retailers believe the postal strikes could affect their business in the festive period, it has emerged.

In a survey by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), the trade body for global internet e-tail, 77 per cent of members said the industrial action could potentially stop customers from shopping for goods online as Christmas approaches.

However, it appears many companies are already taking action to minimise the damage. Some 60 per cent have made alternative delivery arrangements to cut out Royal Mail and many could benefit from website redesigns to offer customers reassurance on homepages and checkout pages.

Microsoft fast-tracks Windows 7

Microsoft is just one of the companies adopting emergency online distribution measures. Although Windows 7 officially launches tomorrow, the company has already sent out copies to many customers who pre-ordered through the UK's biggest retailers to avoid the postal strike.

David Smith, director of operations at the IMRG, has warned about the possible business impact. He said: "E-commerce sales are set to top £50 billion in 2009, even through the recession, but a strike of this nature has the potential to do significant harm to online retail sales."

The Communication Workers Union, which represents postal workers, is planning a 48-hour postal strike over Royal Mail's reform plans. Staff at mail centres across the UK will be taking industrial action tomorrow, while delivery office employees will be walking out on Friday. Although some services will operate at a reduced capacity, Royal Mail has announced that it is removing the Special Delivery guarantee for items posted on either strike day.