The manufacturer and retailer is upgrading its inventory management and supply chain systems to prepare for a global network of e-commerce sites.
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For the coming year, Cabela’s expects to add more content but link it even more closely to products. Further, it will use search-based marketing to expand beyond its core hunting and fishing clientele. “Searches have drawn in a new customer,” Miller says. “We’re known in hunting. Now we’re bringing in campers, backpackers and birdwatchers.”
Art Technology Group Inc.
Kana Software Inc.
First Data Corp.
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.
On the road again
The stereotype of the RVer is an older, middle class couple. And shoppers at Camping World stores and catalogs fit the category-their average age is 55. But credit CampingWorld.com with attracting a younger crowd to Camping World. The average CampingWorld.com shopper is 10 years younger and more techno-enabled. Evidence: The web site has proven to be an efficient marketer of expensive, high-tech gadgetry. “There’s a new $5,300 satellite product on the site that lets you have broadband Internet connection as you’re driving. We’ve sold two of them so far,” marvels David Scifres, Camping World’s vice president of Internet operations.
From its beginnings as a single store in 1966, Camping World traveled a long road. Today it’s part of Affinity Group Holding Inc., a $405 million conglomerate that also operates discount clubs and publishes magazines in the recreational arena. Camping World, now the largest retailer of RV accessories, supplies and services, represents perhaps half of Affinity’s annual sales with 30 stores in 20 states, catalogs and a resource-packed web site that’s one-stop shopping for everything an RVer could ever need.
Camping World offers merchandise less easily found elsewhere, such as RV-sized appliances and camper accessories and gear. The company launched an information-only web site in 1996 and added e-commerce in 1997. Its customer database is now 6.5 million, including some 2 million active customers. CampingWorld.com gets about 220,000 unique visitors a month and its e-mail list is half a million and growing.
While the web site also helps get customers into Camping World stores its main goal is transactions, as well as serving as a response vehicle for catalog and Internet promotions. “It’s a much cheaper way to take orders,” Scifres says. And more customers are migrating cross-channel-Scifres reports that on one recent day, for example, 43% of the orders came in online vs. by phone.
CampingWorld.com organizes its offering under functionally grouped categories that make search a breeze. The site’s also rich in information and services, including 5-day weather forecast by ZIP code, a news service dedicated to RV-related news, access to discounted campground fees and even RV insurance.
“This site does a lot of things right. The RV segment is a tight-knit group and the site plays right into that community. I like the club membership pricing and the fact that the community can review products,” says retail consultant Keven Wilder of McMillan/Doolittle. “It’s fast-loading and easy to use. They have really thought this through.”
Performics Inc., Commission Junction Inc.
CommercialWare Inc., Kewill Systems
Sharing the fun
For a retailer known for fun, FAO Inc. offers it packaged in a bundle of ways on FAO.com, the site for innovative toy seller FAO Schwarz.
Take the Musini, a children’s musical toy made by Neurosmith. Looking like a sure kid-pleaser, the Musini is a round, electronic musical device that sits on the floor. Activated by vibrations, it emits musical sounds based on the signals it receives from tapping hands and feet. It comes with several music cartridges, so users can choose musical styles ranging from classical to pop.
The Musini may be difficult for some parents and kids to imagine in actual operation, even after reading a detailed description of it. So FAO makes it easier by offering a pop-up video. Click it on and you see and hear boys and girls clapping, dancing and jumping around the $75 Musini as it belts out a tune.
Innovation in toy-selling has been a hallmark of FAO since its founding in 1862 in Baltimore by Frederick August Otto Schwarz, a recent immigrant from Germany. As it developed into a chain of stores with a flagship location on New York’s posh Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz developed a merchandising style that strived to provide interactive retailing environments, allowing shoppers a more hands-on feel than typically allowed by other merchants.