Outdoor gear and apparel retailer The Orvis Co. Inc. has launched OrvisNews.com, a site that provides news and information on subjects of interest to the company’s core audience of outdoor enthusiasts.
The site includes blogs written by Orvis employees and non-employee experts on the subjects of fly fishing, hunting, dogs, conservation and travel. Another blog, called Insider, features stories styled after Orvis News, a newsletter the company has distributed to customers since the 1960s.
The site also features the company’s collection of podcast recordings on fly fishing and hunting, which had been housed on an Orvis.com page—and also accessible on iTunes—since they launched in 2008. The podcast series is the most-downloaded fly fishing podcast on iTunes, with more than 800,000 downloads, says James Hathaway, the retailer’s senior manager of communications for conservation and social media. The site also features a state-by-state report on fishing conditions written by Orvis-endorsed fishing guides, and areas where consumers can upload photos and videos.
“Our intent with OrvisNews.com is to inform, educate and entertain our customers. We are working on those components as if we are a media company,” Hathaway says. Orvis.com is No. 124 on Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide and had estimated online sales of nearly $111 million last year.
Hathaway says the site is designed to create a forum where consumers can engage with the content and start conversations about the brand. He says that Orvis.com wasn’t designed to have much of these capabilities. “If you go to a fly show or a retail store, you have an interaction with a human. On the Internet, you lose that. This lets us regain that interaction with the customer,” he says.
Hathaway says the site, which debuted in mid-September, is exceeding company expectations but declined to reveal traffic numbers for the new site or Orvis.com. Data from web traffic tracker Compete Inc. says OrvisNews.com drew nearly 3,000 unique visitors during September. By comparison, Orvis.com drew more than 576,997 unique visitors in September.
Hathaway says company CEO Perk Perkins, who also blogs for the site, fully endorsed the site’s creation because he believes engaging consumers with content will lead to loyalty, which in turn will lead to site traffic and sales. “We think it’s a pretty good leap to make,” Hathaway says.