April 21, 2003, 12:00 AM

Web-based kiosks + free delivery to stores = surging sales

Since free store pick-up started last September, sales of kayaks ordered through web-based kiosks at REI have surged 700%, while overall kiosk-based sales are up 30%.


When it comes to special-ordering products through in-store web-based kiosks, free delivery for store pick-up is proving to be a winning formula for REI Inc., the company tells InternetRetailer.com. Since the free store pick-up service started last September, sales of kayaks ordered through web-based kiosks have surged 700%, while overall kiosk-based sales are up 30%, the company says.

To expand the availability of the store pick-up service, REI in June will offer free delivery to the store for any item at REI.com. Since September, customers could only order products for store pick-up by visiting an REI store and asking a store sales rep to place an online order over a private connection with suppliers. Such sales typically occur as the result of a discussion a customer has with a sales rep about what products are available in the store and what can be ordered.

REI says the increase in store kiosk-based sales came without any special promotions of the store pick-up service, supporting REI`s belief that the combination of kiosk-based orders and free store delivery is a winning combination. "It was not supported by advertising, not even in-store posters," a spokesman says.

Large items like kayaks have been particularly popular in the free store delivery service, since customers can avoid paying total shipping fees that run over $100 for kayaks and other large products for home delivery. The kayaks themselves range in price from several hundred dollars to more than $2,000. REI says the offer for free store pick-up is a permanent offer that REI can afford because it simply consolidates kiosk-ordered products with other shipments already destined for its stores.

Also beginning in June, store customers will be able to use kiosks to place their own requests for in-store pickup on REI.com, without having to place the request with a sales rep. For now, sales reps place orders for store pickup over a kiosk not available to customers.

REI started placing kiosks in its stores in 1997 and now has at least one available to customers in each of its 65 stores. Its newest stores have four kiosks each.


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