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REI’s new iPad app focuses on visually rich content for shoppers


Through this execution, the retailer hopes to deliver a compelling experience for its increasingly mobile audience. Due to the 75 percent of in-store purchases that originated from digital researching, REI decided to bump up its mobile presence a step further.

“Simply put, REI helps people play outside,” said Jeff Klonowski, senior manager of digital retail of mobile at REI, Seattle. “Just as our knowledgeable retail employees in green vests are a source for information and inspiration, our mobile platforms provide expertise and insight about the best gear and apparel to enjoy a favorite activity.

“Mobile allows REI to be a reliable, immediate resource when and where our customers need us, in the right context,” he said.

Visual shopping
Through the new app, users can access a selection of top brand products in camping, backpacking, cycling, climbing, skiing, fitness and more.

A huge focus of the new app is vivid imagery, and users will experience product images that contain more detail and can be pinched and zoomed, along with other native functionalities.

The app is also equipped with a store locator tool and a product availability engine for those who prefer to buy at a store nearby.

Updates for the REI Snow Report include improved features that leverage national and international resort feeds. Users can identify their favorite locations and choose from intuitive alerts, such as new snow, weather forecasts and snow depth. The Snow Report has always aimed to help skiers and snowboarders know the details about their favorite slopes before heading to the mountain.

REI is using push notifications to present engaging content and a social media-sharing feature to make it easy for friends who are planning a trip.

Moving toward mobile
Executives from Urban Outfitters and REI at the Mobile Shopping Summit 2014 explained why they are taking a piecemeal approach to responsive Web design, with both landing on checkout as the first completely responsive site component.

During the panel session, “Furthering Our Commitment To Responsive Design In 2015 And Beyond,” the executives discussed some of the challenges and successes that come with the move toward responsive Web design. REI is in the process of a comprehensive site redesign, taking a responsive and adaptive approach. One reason why the retailer chose checkout as its first responsively designed site component is because they are no headers and footers (see story).

In a reflection of mobile’s growing role in gift card purchases, REI updated its iPhone app last month to enable users to buy digital gift cards.

The gift card capability was part of a broader update that makes the app compatible with iOS 8 and enables users to more easily edit and delete their credit card information. By updating the app, REI is making sure that the app is prepared for an expected influx of shopping activity during the upcoming holiday period (see story).

REI plans to move with its customers through the many shifts in technology.

“As our customers have shifted their digital habits towards smartphones and tablets, we see a large REI customer base engaging with REI properties on tablets,” Mr. Klonowski said. “Our goal is to deliver a fully native commerce experience optimized for our most loyal users on iPad.

“This initial release is intended to create a great commerce experience on iPad for the holiday, but in the future, you’ll see this begin to expand as it ladders up to our larger plans to better deliver across all screens,” he said.

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York