April 24, 2023
5 min read

How Retailers Can Help Consumers Prepare for Hurricane Season

Summer is just around the corner, and unfortunately, the summer is also the start of hurricane season in the United States. According to the National Hurricane Center, "The official hurricane season for the Atlantic basin is from June 1 to November 30, but tropical cyclone activity sometimes occurs before and after these dates, respectively."

In times of severe weather or natural disasters, consumers rely on businesses in their community to go above and beyond. But oftentimes, these businesses are unprepared. We saw this to be the case last year when Hurricane Ian swept across the country. In response, major grocery chains like Walmart and Publix limited the quantity of "essential" items that shoppers could purchase per visit. 

Despite issues with inventory, grocery and convenience stores see their revenues increase 5% to 10% about three days before a hurricane hits due to panic-induced over-buying. And a day before a major storm, sales have the potential to increase 30% to 50% compared to normal according to the same study.  

Retailers must set up advanced technology to support a readiness response and ensure customers are prepared in the face of a natural disaster. This includes developing a quick and effective in-store journey that helps shoppers get in and out of the store with the items they need to withstand the storm.  

Maximize Available Inventory of Essential Items 

When concerned consumers are flocking to the grocery store ahead of a potential hurricane, they are looking to stock up on items like water, bread, baby formula, canned items and batteries. During these situations, empty or near-empty shelves foster panic and inspire shoppers to visit the competitor's store.  

To avoid this frustrating experience, retailers can invest in technology that minimizes stockouts. For example, an inventory management solution can improve merchandising planning and shorten response times for in-store employees as they support shoppers. With these tools automatically recording inventory changes, orders for replacement products can be triggered immediately, making sure items are never unavailable.  

If a grocer can establish a reputation for always having these essential items, despite growing demand before a storm, the grocer will secure strong loyalty from its community.  

Enable Faster Checkout to Ease Worried Minds 

The last thing a shopper wants to do is wait in a long line to get their essential items. Mobile, self-checkout or even scanless options can help minimize queues and get shoppers in and out of stores more quickly.  

Self-checkout kiosks have long been a popular method to reduce wait times and give the shopper the power to checkout at their own speed. During high-pressure situations before a hurricane, self-checkout can be a vital tool for increasing speed to purchase. Similarly, with mobile checkout, shoppers can scan items as they navigate the store either on their phones or on store-branded scanning devices.  

Scanless technology also removes the need for checkout entirely. Customers can shop at their own pace and leave the store when they're finished – receiving an automated receipt once they exit. This technology creates a seamless and efficient experience and, when paired with a store app, scanless checkout is as transparent as any other checkout format.  

What's more, by automating the checkout process, store employees can be allocated elsewhere. These employees can support worried shoppers in finding what they need or ensuring all inventory from the stock room is available to customers on the shelves. These relationship-centric initiatives improve long-term customer connections and create a positive in-store experience, even during a stressful time.  

GK Can Help Retailers Prepare 

When faced with an emergency, shoppers want to know that their local grocers will be prepared. GK can help businesses of any size respond to major events like hurricanes with our innovative retail solutions. Reach out to us today to learn more ahead of this year's hurricane season.