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The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently warned 46 states and the District of Columbia that mail-in voters may be disenfranchised because of slow delivery times. Packages that normally took three days to get to customers are now routinely taking weeks. All of this falls hard on Black entrepreneurs, who rely on USPS for order fulfillment. The extreme delays in delivery are hurting Black entrepreneurs’ ability to service customers and more importantly, their reputations.
Black entrepreneurs are being bombarded with emails, Instagram comments and nasty phone calls. Customers have ordered products and weeks later, in many cases, still haven’t received them. In business and in life, reputation is everything. Black entrepreneurs must work harder to build trust with consumers due to racial prejudice and old fashioned racism. When customers get slow service or a botched order from Amazon, chances are they’ll order from them again. For Black owned businesses, however, a bad customer experience may be a death sentence. “That’s why I don’t mess with Black businesses,” may very well follow if things don’t go perfectly. By no fault of their own, Black entrepreneurs are facing intense customer backlash and trying hard to overcome a problem that can only be solved at the highest levels of government.
Black businesses rely heavily on e-commerce to sell their products. Overwhelmingly, Black entrepreneurs don’t have access to shelf space in stores so without reliable shipping, business stops. Some have opted to use other shipping services, like FedEx. Those options, however, are much more costly than USPS. That means customers must pay even higher shipping or the business must pick up some of the cost: that translates to smaller profit margins for businesses already walking a tightrope. Those unable to use alternative services are trying their best to communicate to angry customers, some who’ve waited weeks for their products.
The consumer anger is real but ultimately, misguided. Black business owners are receiving orders and getting them to the post office, as they always have. What happens from that point, however, is completely out of their control. What is clear in all of this is that without a solution soon, Black entrepreneurs will continue to suffer.