The Back Story
REI is a leading outdoor retailer that was founded in 1923 by a group of climbers in search of quality outdoor gear. As one of their primary brand development and design agencies, we were tasked with helping them reach a new millennial audience.
During this process, we did a lot of research around where the brand stood within the existing market and where they wanted it to go. We felt that we could best achieve our goals by designing an immersive prototype that showcased how they could grow and elevate their current digital platform.
Although our work will probably never be implemented due to ongoing changes within the organization, many of our creative concepts and strategic insights have been applied to the recent site updates.
Understanding the Consumer & Defining Opportunities
Our process here at BASIC always begins with understanding the brand ecosystem. We look for ways a new platform might inspire new consumers without alienating their current consumer. Because of our ongoing involvement across REI’s brand and digital initiatives, we had a strong sense for the future voice and messaging strategy for REI’s multi-channel platform. However, the challenge was defining a web strategy that would seamlessly translate REI’s best-in-class customer shopping experience to an online environment.
Through research, past experiences and some candid conversations with frequent online shoppers, we established a few key insights that helped to inform our design and interface decisions for their eCommerce platform.
Bringing the In-Store Experience Online
From our insights and a few preliminary brainstorms, we set one primary goal. We wanted to recreate the in-store experience REI provides digitally. The existing REI.com platform provided users with almost everything they were looking for. The challenge we faced was bringing the personalized in-store experience to our platform. Our concept focused on optimized interactions, connected content types, dynamic layouts and an overall experience that is on-brand, content rich, and fun to explore.
An Open & Organized Storefront
REI's in-store experience presents users with a well organized flow and shopping experince. So one of the first things we did during our exploration was open up the interface. This reduced the clutter and helped create a better overall browsing experience.
To personalize the users shopping journey, we implemented Rich Relevance. This customizes product content based on browsing behavior and seasonal considerations.
Bringing in Expert Advice
With expert advice from REI's knowledgeable sales staff, we now provide users with true utility and support by prominently featuring expert advice throughout the site. Comprised of tailored content that is served up based on the users browsing behavior.
Surfacing Buried Content
REI's website is full of rich content and unique services but they are hard to find and understand because of inflexible templates. In an effort to make sure that our design solution did not gloss over secondary and tertiary pages, we developed templates that allowed for each of these services to have a unique look and feel.
Growing the REI Community
Much like experiencing the outdoors, browsing a digital destination should provide delight, discovery and entertainment. This is why we leveraged social content to expand and sustain REI’s loyal community. The site now features UGC and branded content focused on bringing the REI community together. We established a platform that showcased the voice and expertise that REI offers. We also made it a priority to communicate the membership benefits and co/op offerings by highlighting member stories and loyalty perks.
An Adaptive Mobile Strategy
For REI, we conceptually redesigned and upgraded their mobile site to enhance the shopping experience for users and tech savvy millennials. Understanding the scale of REI’s product assortment and the volume of different product types, we were reticent to follow the responsive technology-trend that many retailers were adopting. Instead, we opted for an adaptive build which would facilitate a more flexible content framework for a massive retailer like REI.
Mobile users have different goals and needs than a desktop users. Mobile strategy should always takes this into consideration. Our information architecture approach enabled users to move between key site sections with ease. All of the primary features found on desktop were adapted to scale down to mobile form factors. Features like personalization, diverse content/categories, as well as cross promotions were readily exposed to optimize and customize the overall shopping experience.
Additionally, we spent a lot of time focusing on the path-to-purchase within the mobile view. Now, users could make quick and secure purchases on-the-go, throughout their active and busy lives. A slick interface with intuitive CTA’s was our primary goal, while allowing secondary product content and community offerings to be exposed at the tap of a button.
We also spent time thinking about the new in-store experience and how mobile can be used as a tool and key-influencer during the in-store shopping journey. We considered product reviews, specs, and price comparison tools. Understanding this, we implemented a barcode scanning API that enables a consumer to quickly scan their product in-store to retrieve more information about a product as well as related items.