Why Orvis Puts Local Retailers First

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Bill Reed, Director of Wholesale at Orvis and outdoor industry veteran, knows that confident and supported local retailers are essential to brand sales. Retailers have the crucial combination of technical knowledge and the opportunity to place the actual product in the hand of the consumer. This understanding helps to drive Orvis’ wholesale strategy and internal initiative of being a better brand partner to its retailers.

Bill Reed, Orvis
        Bill Reed, Director of Wholesale, Orvis

Promoboxx interviewed Bill on his experiences within the industry, retailer enablement, and the importance of channel alignment.

Bill has been involved in the fishing and outdoor industries for over forty years, beginning with his job at his family’s fly shop in Buffalo, NY back in the early 1970’s. Bill has overseen Orvis’ world-wide wholesale channel of approximately 750 accounts for the past ten years.

What trends can you speak to in the outdoor industry? How is the retail environment shifting?

The significant change that started a couple of years ago, after the big shift to e-commerce based business/sales, has been the consumers’ return to specialty retailers. The specialty stores can fulfill customers’ need for knowledge by answering questions in person, providing expert advice and developing a trusted relationship. I think many of today’s consumers understand this may cost a bit more. However, they’re walking out of the store knowing they’ve got a great fitting hiking boot or a fly rod that fits their casting style, and they learned how to tie a new knot correctly. This added value from the specialty retailer reduces the frustration level in the long run as they’re more confident they’ve made the right purchase decision.

Why are local retailers important to telling your brand story?

Orvis offers a premium product that benefits from the technical knowledge that a local retailer provides, and their ability to place the actual product in the hand of the consumer. For example, if someone comes in looking for a fly rod, the retailer can take a consumer out to test cast a couple different fly rods models, and work with them to help clarify the differences, and find the model that best fits their need. In addition, the local retailer is instrumental in introducing new people to our sport, which is at the ground floor of telling our brand story.

Can you speak to the importance of aligning retailers to the national brand messaging?

It’s simple, if all of our channels are in alignment, our brand message will be louder and heard by many more consumers.

Orvis Local Retailers Share
                       Example co-branded Facebook share

What retailer marketing challenges do you experience?

Orvis is a multi-channel operation, we’ve been around since 1856, and we are the oldest catalog retailer in the US. We market in many different ways; catalogs, direct campaigns, national advertising campaigns, local marketing efforts, and different social methods, to name a few. However, our biggest challenge is how do we include our independent dealer base?

What programs or initiatives do you have in place to help your retailers succeed?

Other than the typical merchandise fixtures, POP/signage programs, and basic sales initiatives, our big internal initiative is to be a better partner. How can we help make our retailer’s daily or weekly life easier?

What do you think your most successful retailers are doing well?

Two aspects some of our successful retailers are doing well are

  1. Offering improved services. This could be in the form of outstanding customer service, introductory classes, intermediate classes/clinics, local guiding, and/or hosting both local and destination style trips. In other words, to compete with the e-commerce and big box giants – what can they offer that helps set them apart as the real experts?
  2. Keeping in touch with their customers and staying relevant.

    local retailers social media post Orvis
                                            Example co-branded Twitter share                                    

How were you supporting your retailers with digital marketing before Promoboxx?

Although we had loads of assets to offer, we didn’t have an organized way to provide these assets to our retailers. We needed a better, more organized method to both collect and share our digital assets with our local retailers, which is why we decided to move forward with Promoboxx.

How has your experience with Promoboxx been so far?

It’s been a good experience. We are still learning as we’re in our first year, but the support and guidance have been great. Our retailers like the fact that all of the assets are located in one easy to find location for each campaign. Overall, Promoboxx improves our partnership with our retailers, which is the main goal. The whole platform is user-friendly!

Are you interesting in learning how to better support your retailer partners? Request a demo today.

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Categories: Brand Interview, Outdoor Industry

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