Outlook_map_Precip_2015_2F_2000In drought-drenched California, we are preparing for an extra holiday guest. But instead of washing sheets for the air mattress, we are fixing leaks and clearing gutters. El Niño, a climate event defined by warmer than usual Pacific Ocean temperatures that affects global weather patterns, is expected to bring heavy rains over the next few months to California as well as the entire southern tier of the U.S.

According to NOAA, this year’s El Niño is one of the strongest on record. Parts of California could see 40-50% more rain than average while Florida could get 70% more rain.

While some might wait and see, the wise will no longer ignore long-neglected winter chores.

What does this mean for retailers? Folks have a legitimate weather-induced excuse reason to shop. (You think I’m kidding, but I just bought myself three pairs of boots.) Here are some ways you can capture the attention of shoppers preparing for El Niño:

Treat El Niño like its own retail season. Look at your products with fresh eyes and think about what people might need to buy during an extra rainy season. Yes, people might want boots, hats, gloves, jackets, umbrellas and waterproof socks. But they might also need floor mats, windshield wipers, rain barrels, tarps, sand bags, heavy plastic sheets, generators and sump pumps. Parents will need activities for kids who are cooped up inside for days at a time. And let’s not forget the best in rain-proof beauty products, such as waterproof mascara and anti-frizz hair products.

If you sell anything your shoppers might want to weather the upcoming storms or make cabin fever more manageable, make sure they know what you’ve got. All the best practices of merchandising apply. Highlight special deals on El Niño-related items. Recommend products based on what shoppers are searching for. Curate landing pages to showcase your entire El Niño-related product selection.

Provide how-to guides. The Los Angeles Times offered readers 28 things to do to prepare for El Niño rains this season. The list includes must-do tasks for your home, garden and car. Many are DIY projects. For example, No. 18 on the list: Plant winter vegetables in raised beds or elevated rows. If you specialize in home improvement, garden or auto supplies, share your expert advice and provide shoppers with an El Niño checklist or direct them to already existing how-to guides so they are ready for the rain. They will appreciate that you are looking out for them.

Keep an eye on your popular search terms. The more it rains, the more people are going to realize they need certain things they hadn’t thought of. Make sure you are reviewing your most popular search terms. (If you are an SLI customer, make sure to look at your Poor Results report too.) Keeping in tune with what shoppers want will help you better merchandise the products you have. In addition, user-generated SEO will help your site be found as new, seasonal long-tail search terms gain in popularity.

Stay dry, friends. And for more merchandising tips, check out the SLI Knowledge Base.