A web overhaul is underway at REI

September 30, 2014 02:19 PM

Recreational Equipment Inc. will begin rolling out a new early next year, company executives announced this morning in the opening keynote presentation at the 2014 Summit in Seattle.

President and CEO Jerry Stritzke described the site under development as a "fusion of creativity and technology" meant to deliver to customers the attention to detail and the brand experience they can find in REI's 135 stores. "We believe our digital assets represent our 21st century flagship experience," he said.

While he and Brad Brown, REI's senior vice president of digital retail, did not share many details about what the new will look like, they stressed the connection between shopping in stores and the digital shopping experience. "One amplifies the other," Stritzke said. Brown said more than 75% of shoppers who visit an REI store visited during the preceding week. Mobile, specifically smartphones, also is a major focus. The most-visited web site by consumers within REI stores is "Understanding and solving for mobile moments is a priority for us," Brown said.

The Kent, WA-based retail chain has enlisted the Seattle office of creative agency Young & Rubicam Group to help with the redesign effort. It's also enlisting customers and store associates to help REI. For example, consumers shopping REI's Seattle flagship store might find two of the retailer's web designers working on wireframes at a table in front of the store's fireplace. The designers ask customers to look at what they are working on and get their feedback on the designs.

Store associates from across the country are also being flown to headquarters to share ideas on how can serve online shoppers similarly to how they help them in the store environment. "To us, a fit solution [for shoes] is not to offer free shipping and returns," Brown said. Instead, it is to have services that will help make sure consumers get the right products the first time around.

Stritzke said 23% of the retailer's sales now are web sales. Total sales now exceed $2 billion, noting that web sales are the fastest-growing part of REI's business. REI is No. 69 in Internet Retailer's Top 500 Guide.





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