REI Maps Out its Digital Journey
Outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI was one of the early pioneers in the e-commerce industry, launching its first website in 1996. That online experience has changed quite a bit in the nearly 20 years since its launch, but one thing remains the same: the company continues to try to provide its members (it's a co-op) the best shopping experience possible. In a keynote presentation yesterday at the Shop.org Annual Summit in Seattle, REI's President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, as well as its Senior Vice President of Digital Retail Brad Brown, discussed how REI is evolving its digital properties into the 21st century flagship store.
REI generated over $2 billion in sales last year, with digital (online and mobile) accounting for 23 percent of those total sales. Digital is the fastest-growing business segment for REI. Recognizing the growth opportunity at hand, REI has identified four factors it believes are integral to its digital success, Stritzke said: being a multichannel company; creating the flagship of the 21st century; differentiating itself from its competitors; and a belief in mobile.
REI's flagship brick-and-mortar stores in Seattle (its hometown), Denver and SoHo are places to capature the imagination of outdoor enthusiasts, Stritzke said. The company is working to bring the creativity and technology found in those physical stores into its digital properties.
Multichannel for REI is more than just being able to sell to customers in more than one channel; it's about applying what it learns from each channel to offer the same experience in whichever way the consumer chooses to engage with the company. Consider that 75 percent of REI's in-store purchases are preceded by a visit to one of the company's digital properties in the previous seven days. We sell pretty complex products, Brown said, noting that people like to research them online before going to their local store to make a purchase.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.