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Online retailers and shipping providers adjust their operations for Hurricane Ian with slower shipping promises, moving merchandise high in the warehouse and closing offices and stores in Florida.

As Hurricane Ian moved toward Florida, online retailers and ecommerce service providers took steps to prepare their operations for the storm. On Tuesday and Wednesday, several merchants reported temporarily closing offices, warehouses and stores, and are diverting order fulfillment to facilities outside The Sunshine State.

Ian made landfall just after 3 p.m. local time Wednesday, along the southwestern coast of Florida near Cayo Costa, an island west of Fort Myers. At that time, Ian’s maximum sustained winds were estimated to be near 150 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center. Ahead of that event, Digital Commerce 360 reached out to online retailers and service providers with a significant presence in Florida. Our staff also surveyed the web pages of Florida-based e-retailers.

Retailers close Florida stores and offices ahead of the storm

Apparel and home goods retailer Bealls Inc. put a notice on its homepage warning customers of store closures. It also offers a link to a page that shows the status of each location.


Bealls’ homepage warns shoppers that some stores will close due to Hurricane Ian.


Bealls sells online at BeallsFlorida.com and operates more than 70 Florida stores. The retailer ranks No. 630 in the Top 1000.


Grocery store chain Publix makes store-closing information available online.

When Digital Commerce 360 reached out via email to Del Mar Fans & Lighting, a retailer of ceiling fans and light fixtures in Daytona Beach, Florida, we got only an automated response.

“We received your email request! We will be closing our Daytona Beach, FL office at 1:00 pm, 9/27/2022, due to hurricane Ian. We will respond as soon as possible to your email while resources allow,” the response said.


Del Mar, which sells online at DelMarFans.com, is No. 629 in the Top 1000.

Other retailers, including grocery store Publix Super Markets Inc. (No. 124) and general merchandise chain BrandsMart USA (No, 575), posted similar warnings.


A banner on BrandsMart U.S.A.’s homepage leads shoppers to a selection of gasoline-powered generators and other disaster-survival products.

Pet-supply retailer Chewy.com, which has joint headquarters in Plantation, Florida and Boston, Massachusetts, says it would not have to delay orders. That’s because it has warehouses throughout the United States.


Shipments likely delayed one to three business days

Goruck LLC, a brand of rucksacks and related fitness gear, will maintain “business as usual” as long as it can, said Joe D’Alesio, warehouse and customer service manager.


Fitness brand Goruck temporarily suspended expedited shipping.

“Shipping times may be delayed one to three business days, as volume will increase due to smaller staff in the warehouse leading up to the storm and a potential [halt] of all shipments as the storm is projected to linger for about 72 hours,” D’Alesio said.

Goruck ranks N0. 1,233 in the Digital Commerce 360 Next 1000, a listing of North America’s leading online retailers, ranked 1,001-2,000 by annual web sales. Rucksacks are weighted backpacks used for exercising.


“We do not have the luxury of shifting fulfillment to other centers at the moment,” D’Alesio said. “But fortunately, our Ruck Plates ship separately out of Minnesota, so those will continue to ship as normal.” Ruck Plates are weights that fit inside the brand’s rucksacks.

The brand’s first hurricane

D’Alesio said Goruck has experience with weather emergencies, but this is its first hurricane.

“We have dealt with this in the past with winter storms affecting our 3PLs in other locations of the country in the past,” D’Alesio said. “But this is the first time a hurricane has affected our inventory at home as we recently moved the bulk of our inventory to a local 3PL in [Jacksonville].”

He added that Goruck isn’t concerned about the safety of its inventory stored in Florida. He said the Jacksonville warehouse, run by 3PL firm Ship Hero, is secure and Goruck ‘s merchandise is well protected.


Based on its experience with winter storms, Goruck emphasized getting products out the door, as Ian approached, he said.

“Business as usual for the most part,” D’Alesio said. “[We are] focusing on getting as many shipments out as possible and shutting down expedited shipping methods until next week.”

Re-routing orders ahead of Hurricane Ian

Smart Warehousing, a third-party logistics provider, is re-routing orders to its other warehouses away from its two Orlando locations. Smart operates 38 warehouses in 12 U.S. markets.

Lori Gorman, director of warehouse operations, said Smart was working with its retailer customers that could not divert orders. In those cases, Smart’s goal was to fulfill as many as possible before the storm hit, she said.


“Additionally, we are securing and storing all IT equipment away from low-lying areas in the warehouse so that we are able to start the building up as soon as the storm passes,” Gorman said.

She said the company has established a call tree, so management can check in with employees and offer assistance.

Smart Warehousing’s retail clients include Jack Stack Barbecue, which sells barbequed meats online, RetroUSA. a retailer of aftermarket automotive customization products and Kid Made Modern, which sells craft kits online.

Amazon reacts

An Amazon.com Inc. spokesman said the retailer is adjusting operations as needed. Amazon has 8,000 full-time and part-time employees in the Tampa area.


“We’re closely monitoring the path of Hurricane Ian and making adjustments to our operations in order to keep our employees and those delivering for us safe,” the spokesperson said. “We’re in regular contact with our employees and delivery partners to ensure everyone is aware of any site closures or unsafe conditions and will continue to make adjustments as needed.”

The spokesperson added that Amazon is ready to help the affected areas, using its infrastructure, technology and inventory. As usual, Amazon will continue updating customers on any changes to expected delivery times. Amazon is No. 1 in the 2022 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, which ranks of the top e-retailers in North America. It is also No. 3 in the 2022 Global Online Marketplaces database.

On Monday, Amazon said it activated its Disaster Relief Hub, a special warehouse in Atlanta where the company prepositions more than 1 million relief items, such as bottled water, tarps, tents, water containers and filters, medical equipment, clothing items, and kitchen supplies. Amazon said it also positioned similar supplies across Florida and organized teams to help any communities hit by Hurricane Ian.

Walmart closes stores

Walmart Inc. (No. 2 in the Top 1000) reported that it also is monitoring the storm.


“The safety of our associates, customers and members is always our top priority. Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center is monitoring Hurricane Ian in real-time, assessing the status of our facilities in the path of the storm. We will continue operating as long as it is safe to do so,” the retailer said in a statement.

As of  Thursday afternoon, Walmart listed 247 store and warehouse club closures in Florida.

Carriers suspend service in affected areas

FedEx Corp., United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and the United States Postal Service (USPS) closed facilities and announced service delays in Florida due to the hurricane.

On Thursday, FedEx issued a service alert saying that customers should expect delays and disruptions for inbound and outbound shipments across portions of impacted areas.”


In an email, a FedEx spokesperson said the carrier had “implemented contingency plans to help restore service as soon as possible in those areas where it has been disrupted.” The spokesperson also urged customers to check the FedEx website for the latest service information and to check the status of their shipments.

UPS and USPS issued similar alerts.

“Services in Florida may be impacted by Hurricane Ian,” UPS says on its website. “While most UPS facilities are providing pickup and delivery services as conditions permit, some delays are possible.”
The UPS alert included a long list of ZIP codes where the carrier canceled Thursday pickups and deliveries.

USPS closed more than 200 Florida post offices on Tuesday. By Thursday, it restored service at nine of them.


Digital Commerce 360 reached UPS and USPS on Thursday. Neither immediately responded.

April Berthene, James Risley, Gretchen Salois and the Digital Commerce 360 editorial staff contributed to this report.

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