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REI updates iPhone app to feature mobile shopping

Ski/snowboard equipment and apparel brands Black Diamond, Burton, K2, Obermeyer and Smith are featured in the new shopping section of the REI Snow Report application for iPhone and iPod touch.

As outdoor enthusiasts everywhere eagerly anticipate a bountiful winter season, the updated REI Snow Report is poised to help iPhone users know where to head for the best conditions for their skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing adventures. The free application is a result of a partnership between national outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI and mobile media company Zumobi.

“With over 100,000 downloads and an active user base, we want to be a resource for helping people get outside,” said Jordan Williams, manager of digital engagement at REI, Kent, WA. “Additionally, our approach to the REI Snow Report was to develop an app that supports ski and snowboard enthusiasts of all levels and ability.

“Our effort also complements our broader strategy across the co-op to embrace technology and increase outdoor recreation,” he said. “The app is primarily dedicated to skiers and snowboarders who want instant access to the latest conditions—these individuals may or may be co-op members, with the goal of introducing our brand and friendly expertise to those not familiar with us.

“Our secondary target is entry-level outdoor recreation enthusiasts interested in snowsports.”

Recreational Equipment Inc.—known as REI—is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to educating and outfitting its members and the community for outdoor adventure.

Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

Zumobi designs, develops and publishes branded applications for smartphones.

Zumobi’s portfolio of mobile applications comprises the Zumobi Network, which provides cross-marketing opportunities via in-application advertising with click-to-download functionality.

“Through our partnership, we were able to leverage REI’s snow sports expertise and combine that with Zumobi’s expertise in the mobile space,” Mr. Williams said.

Ramping up mobile commerce
REI Snow Report users can customize the application to view up to 12 slopes through one-touch access to resort information, as well as the co-op’s Web site loaded with expert advice on recreating outdoors and the top brands of gear and apparel.

With more than 100,000 downloads in its first year, the REI Snow Report became the number one ranked snow report application.

Enhancements to the 2009 REI Snow Report include a faster application, new snow notifications, trail maps, Twitter feeds for more than 200 resorts and imagery provided by REI members and customers.

In addition, specific mountains and REI stores are now searchable by GPS coordinates or state, up to a 200 mile radius.

Current users of the REI Snow Report received a notification from the App Store prompting them to download the new version.

New users can download the free application in the App Store by searching “REI.”

REI’s first-generation mobile application, which launched iin Dec. 2008, was designed for RIM’s BlackBerry, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and the iPhone.

“The overwhelming majority of downloads were for the iPhone platform and taking into consideration user feedback on the experience of the other platforms, we focused this iteration on iPhone only,” Mr. Williams said.

“That said, we are closely watching the growth of the Android platform and ongoing customer feedback will determine future development plans,” he said.

The REI application fits into the retailer’s broader snowsports marketing strategy. It has been included in print magazines (primarily snowsports publications),, an email program called Gearmail, direct mail catalogs and in-store signage.

The REI application will also be promoted via ads within other applications in the Zumobi Network.

“We crafted a couple of top-level features, including a brand-specific shopping portal with a one-thumb shopping experience, John SanGiovanni, cofounder/vice president of product design at Zumobi, Seattle. “We thought about the user scenario around an app like this, and figured most people probably won’t buy a pair of skis or a snowboard on their phone, but they will look at pictures, read product descriptions and locate and map the nearest REI store.

“App users can browse the products featured on REI’s online site and buy or click-to-call the nearest store to check availability,” he said. “This app is anchored in utility.

“REI wanted 100 percent share of voice within the app itself, but they approached some of their top-tier brand partners to be featured in the brand portal inside of the app’s shopping section, so now app users can browse by brand in addition to category.”