Strategy

5 ways outdoor retailer REI is revolutionizing customer experience

Gabriela Porto
Gabriela Porto August 10, 2021
5 ways outdoor retailer REI is revolutionizing customer experience

Here at VTEX, we believe that all businesses need to embrace digital collaboration as fuel for the growth and innovation engine of today and tomorrow. This is one of the reasons why we promote our Collaborative Commerce Talks, where we share ecommerce success stories and good practices adopted by VTEX and our clients.

In this customer experience focused Collaborative Commerce Talk, our own Michael von Bodungen, Chief Customer Officer at VTEX, and Michelle Cutter, VP of Ecommerce at REI got together to discuss how the company is revolutionizing customer experience by creating relationships between brand and customer that withstand the test of time while surfing the digital wave. 

Read the article below and watch the full talk here.

The 5 ways REI is revolutionizing customer experience

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the health recommendations that followed it, people have been seeking refuge in socially distant-friendly and outdoor activities, ranging from buying grills for outdoor barbecues to buying snowboards or cycling gear. Add that to the fact people have been leaning towards more healthy and active lifestyles and you have a great opportunity for REI.

REI is one of the largest outdoor retailers in the U.S., selling camping and climbing gear, snow and water sports products, and much more. They do not only focus on apparel and gear but also on improving customer experience and going beyond traditional retail tactics to keep their clients closer to the brand. We see customer experience as something that focuses on the customer’s end-to-end journey. Not only what they’re doing on the site, but also what they’re doing before and after coming to the site. And that includes things such as customer service, product delivery, our brand reputation, advertising, and more.

Below are the 5 ways REI is revolutionizing customer experience:

1. A co-op lifestyle

REI’s Co-op is a membership program with the sole purpose to inspire and enable life outdoors for everyone. This membership is different from regular loyalty programs because it focuses on empowering customers and giving them a voice, bringing them into the business as part of the process and not only as an end goal. Some of the perks offered are a used gear trade-in program, 10% money back on all purchases, a members-only environment, and more.

2. Engaging the green commerce life

The membership to the Co-op also extends to participating and advocating for the protection of nature and the environment. REI launched the Cooperative Action Network and Fund where members can donate and use their voice to advocate for collective initiatives. At the end of the day, customers aren’t just passively consuming apparel and gear, but also contributing to a greater goal and purpose.

3. Experts available in-store and online

Brand personalization is key to retaining customers and improving their online shopping experience. To find out what one brand can offer that the other doesn’t is a crucial element for growth, especially online. The customer service in-store is done by expert sales associates and transferring that experience to the online was a challenge that REI bypassed by building an Expert Advice tab on their website, where customers can consult employee-produced content and use a conversational commerce tool that works both as a customer service mechanism and sales associate opinions on products.

4. Business of experiences

The REI outdoor experience is part of the Co-op initiative with the mission to connect people with the outdoors. To do that, they offer classes, guided day trips, and multi-day adventures through the expertise at local REI stores depending on where the customer is. REI connects like-minded people with the goal of discovering more of the world through their services and, most importantly, with their products.

5. A content-centric strategy

REI’s website has gradually transformed itself into a hub that offers different services and one of those is original content. From blog posts and product reviews to movies and YouTube videos, REI’s content is produced in-house by their staff and also by other members of the co-op. It all enables peer-to-peer interaction with user-generated content, facilitating the exchange of experiences.

The future is customer and data-driven_VTEX

The future is customer and data-driven

REI hasn’t been following a secret recipe to make the customer experience better, it is just paying attention to apparel industry trends and is working with a consistent brand strategy, communicating to customers and looking for the answers in data. 

Michelle Cutter explains how data is helping build all of the strategies mentioned above and also answered some questions from the audience on measuring impact and growth. Going from satisfaction and conversion rate KPIs to direct client feedback on all initiatives.

Watch the full talk for more details on how REI is taking advantage of the limitless outside by driving their ecommerce experience to the next level.

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