REI is a well-loved brand with signficant advantages versus their competition. But the Co-Op (founded in 1938) failed to exploit their greatest asset their knowledge base.
My research and analysis suggested a two-fold solution. First I revised the website's information architecture to contextualize REI's Expert Advice. Then I designed and built a tool (a prototype) make that advice actionable and so drive sales.
In-store interviews with experienced campers revealed that they shopped for gear in preparation for a trip. But surprisingly, specialty retailers often offer little or no online guidance to the folks going into the wilderness for the first time.
Campmor, Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), The North Face (TNF), and REI are among the major players in this space. Their websites vary wildly in the breadth and depth of their offerings and their presentation:
|Tents & Shelters||Backcountry||Campmor||EMS*||TNF**||Paragon||REI|
|* Eastern Mountain Sports||** The North Face|
There is little correlation between the number of products offered and their organization, filters or categorization. Heuristics site-wide and categorically vary tremendously.
Campmor's heuristics are ... challenging:
The EMS guide highlights five (5) tent features. But it does not explain how to choose among the 300+ tents they have on sale.
REI has the most comprehensice guides by far -- but they are not readily accessible.
"Expert Advice" is available from the 'supra nav', Camp & Hike expanded Top Nav, or on the Camp & Hike landing page.
The article is well-written and includes a video(!) and links to related articles. However it could be better presented: while Campmor's FAQ has its shortcomings, the FAQ format allows users to preview and index content.
Yet none of these guides offer specific product recommendations.
Chuck and Carla are thirty-something Williamsburghers planning a honeymoon camping trip in August.
They like the outdoors but do not have any camping experience. They are shopping for the gear they need for a successful trip.
How might we improve these campers' outcomes and REI's bottom line by better matching campers' needs to suitable products?
Founded in 1938, REI was hiding their greatest asset their knowledge base due to poor [siloed] information architecture.
By putting contextual advice at the product level, I positioned this information:
While revising the IA made that guidance accessible, the Gear Wizard made it actionable (driving sales).
The tent module prototype. It can be easily adapted for other product categories.