Robert Wolfe’s approach to retailing has never been particularly rational. In 1992, he was 21 years old, and along with brother Jeffrey, he started an outdoor equipment brand and outlet called Moosejaw. His approach to the customer experience was as offbeat as the name.
“We literally would throw a football around in the parking lot or play whiffle ball with customers in the store,” he says. “And this was way before people started talking about the customer experience. It was way before we knew we were even supposed to worry about it. Then we started doing things on purpose. We had DJs in the store, employees dancing on the counter. Our role was ‘no sorries and no yawning’ at Moosejaw.”
Now Wolfe and Moosejaw have opened six more stores and begun a journey toward what he calls “the impossible.” Along with cross-channel solutions provider CrossView, Moosejaw has re-launched a website that takes the “madness” of Moosejaw’s in-store experience and brings it online. Wolfe hopes to extend the brand, sell product and create loyal customers with a mix of technology and irreverent content.
The company, based in Madison Heights, WI, sells its own branded line of Moosejaw outdoor gear as well as other major brands. It has three print catalogs in addition to the new Moosejaw.com which relaunched September 1. Wolfe says he has always been a fan of retail technology and points to early adoption of email sales receipts. 90% of all Moosejaw in-store customers request email receipts. Now the chain is ready to amp up its technology commitment in three areas, all with a branding component that communicates the in-store experience.
• In-store: Moosejaw is rolling out customer facing touch screens that read a SKU and display product information, manufacturer information and links to the Moosejaw website. It is also equipping each store with “several “ iPhones. If a customer wants more information about a product or wants to access product reviews on the Moosejaw site, sales associates can simply hand the iPhone to customers with that site on screen for use. The iPhones, of course, stay in the store.
• System integration has been critical. The company says each channel had a completely seprate database and payment process before the CrossView implementation. Now there is one database that offers visibility to product inventory and customer data, including the Moosejaw Rewards loyalty program.
• Text campaigns have resulted in 30% to 77% response rates. Some are coupon driven, some are points driven. All online orders at Moosejaw are followed by texting the tracking code to the customer, which a special 800 number with UPS.
From a branding perspective, the website delivers the goods and a sense of humor. Under the “in case you’re bored” tab, an employee shared the following email to his girlfriend: “Listening to Mandy. Might be nice to enjoy a little Barry Manilow together. If you bring me a peppermint patty I’ll change it right to Copacabana.”
In addition to ther buits of useless information, the Madness section also gives customers a chance to share experiences. If a customer actually wants to use the contact center at Moosejaw, the madness doesn’t stop there either. Hold music is a big deal at Moosejaw. It is “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from Grease, and before it is played, a Moosejaw employee tells the caller that “our mean lawyer says we have to tell you that this call may be recorded for training purposes.”
“These guys really understand that it’s not all about the user interface or the logo, although that is part of multi-channel success,” says CrossView CEO Mark Fodor. “It’s about the customer experience and it’s about taking that brand across channel to extend into the customer experience. On top of all that is analytics to make sure it’s all working.”
It’s too early for Wolfe to point out the results from Moosejaw’s madness. He will say that the “Madness” link gets the second highest click-rate on the site.
And if you’re checking your holiday look in the upper Midwest this season, don’t look to Moosejaw for refinforcement. It has a cross-channel Christmas Madness program too. Customers can take digital pictures of themselves or friends, upload them to a customized Flickr site, and Moosejaw sales associates will be ready and willing to recognize them when they come into any store. They will be told that pictures don’t lie, that mirrors do lie and they look “terrible.”
The solution, of course, is to get some new Christmas gear from Moosejaw. And Wolfe hopes the Moosejaw Makeover just might get that customer to return for another dose of madness, online or off.