July 20, 2012, 2:45 PM

How Moosejaw gains web sales with in-store service

Associates with iPod Touch devices help customers place orders.

Lead Photo

Orders placed on Moosejaw.com from within the outdoor gear and apparel retailer’s nine physical Moosejaw Mountaineering stores now account for 10% of total store sales, says Eoin Comerford, Moosejaw’s chief executive officer.

That’s up 25% from a year ago, and that sort of increase is persuading the retailer to create more ways to sell the larger selection of products it has available online than what is physically possible to stock inside stores. Comerford says a Moosejaw Mountaineering store can stock only about 4,000 to 5,000 product SKUs at any given time, whereas the warehouse used for online orders holds about 80,000.

Most of the in-store online orders are placed via web-enabled iPod Touch devices, which two to three associates in each store carry with them as they assist customers on the floor. Thus, if a customer wants a four-person tent but the store has only a two-person tent, the associate uses the iPod Touch to place the order for the four-person tent and then swipes the customer’s credit card on a credit card reader attached to the iPod Touch. Moosejaw.com ships the order to the customer with free shipping.

“We are taking the ‘endless aisle’ approach to this,” Comerford says. Endless aisle is a term some retailers use to describe how they make their web store’s wider product selection available within the four walls of a physical store

The mobile devices help keep store associates on the floor where they can interact with customers for the full duration of their visits, including checkout. “That’s where we want our associates to be, on the floor engaging with customers, not behind a register,” Comerford says. The retailer’s two newest stores, in Natick, MA, and Boulder, CO, have only two payment terminals, down from three to four available at Moosejaw’s older stores. 60% of all transactions at the Natick and Boulder stores are completed on the mobile devices, Comerford says. Newly hired associates at all stores are now trained on how to check out customers on the mobile devices before they are trained on how to use the cash registers.

Moosejaw.com is No. 281 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

For more on how Moosejaw and other retailers are using mobile technologies within the walls of their retail stores, check out the cover story of Internet Retailer’s August issue, available Aug. 1.

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