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Conversion Audit: REI


There are a lot of REI fans in the Brooks Bell office, and our admiration doesn’t just apply to the store. They continuously put out effective and gorgeous emails, provide a great UX on their site and seem to have an active Test&Target culture.

Still, even in the midst of their awesomeness, there’s a lot of opportunity for REI to optimize their home page. And while we have no way of knowing what they have or haven’t yet tested, we polled the brainpower here and got some great insights.

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The Power of the Customer Pick

We all know that social proof can impact your revenue. But overwhelming your customers with too much information can cause more harm than good. We’d love to see REI do more focused testing with the “Shop for Gear and Clothing” module.

“For starters, they could test just one of the tabs: Customer Picks. Eliminate the Staff Picks, or test the two against each other. The other two tabs seem superfluous and add a lot of noise.”Victoria Morehead, Creative Director

“I’d mBox all the ‘Gear & Clothing’ tabs to optimize product inventory on the home page.” Jenni Bruckman, Client Manager

“We’ve seen that just one suggested product fares much better than many. Perhaps REI should take that route as well.”  Jamie Least, Junior Copywriter

“I am not sure how the Customer Picks and Staff Picks are chosen.  If it’s the top sellers, it would be good to build that into the copy.  If it is a random list, I’d suggest they test displaying one product from different product segments (footwear, apparel, gadgets and electronics, cycling, running gear, etc.). By focusing only on footwear and apparel, they place themselves in line with any sporting goods store – when REI has a better reputation and offers more high-end products.  That’s what makes them different from the competition.” —Suzi Tripp, Client Manager

 “I’m curious…what factors influence the Customer Pick offering? And how can you exploit that?”  —Greg Ng, Chief Experience Officer

Example? Let’s say a customer is wavering between two pairs of shoes, and keeps coming back to the site. Why not test putting the more expensive pair up on the Customer Pick module?

Get the Customer’s Attention

REI is one of those stores that you can wander around in for hours. But our attention span online isn’t so generous. So what we see on the site needs to have maximum impact and potential for engagement—thus, conversion. The slider at the top garnered some interesting feedback from our team.

“I’d be interested in testing the buttons on the slides. The current CTAs don’t stand out much, so it would be worthwhile to see how a more prominent button in an eye-catching color (not white!) performs. Changing the copy could also yield some good results — for example, instead of ‘Check out the REI running shop,’ maybe something like ‘Discover your perfect shoe’ or ‘Get the right gear for your next run.’” Rachel Healy, Copywriter

“It’s a bit risky to feature one product that takes up so much real estate on the homepage. First I would wrap an Mbox around the hero region. Then I would test against the current main hero carousel, especially for new visitors or direct traffic, with a layout showcasing top categories. This way REI will not be taking that big of a risk promoting just one product in hopes that one product will get the engagement they are looking for.”Naoshi Yamauchi, VP, Analytics & Testing

 “I’d suggest testing the first scrolling banner as an image that would encompass more REI products, not just footwear.  By showing more product selection, it’s more likely that a user will find something that interests them.” Suzi Tripp, Client Manager

Put Your Expertise to Work for You

Unlike some other large chain stores, when you walk into an REI, you know you’re going to talk to someone that knows what they’re talking about. That kind of expertise is invaluable to an online customer who’s unsure about what to buy. So how could REI translate their in-store smarts to online conversions?

Matching customer needs with products available online could be one way to illustrate REI’s expertise from the get-go. One answer could be to test smart decision making paths, matching customer needs to the best available product. Rather than sifting through hundreds of options, there could be a 3-question matching system that could find the best fit for my needs. Answers to these questions can reduce the number of options from 100 to 10, creating a more confident buyer.”  —Josh St. John, Director of Client Strategy

There’s a lot more that could be tested and optimized on the REI home page, and throughout the site. They’re an ideal Test&Target user, because they have tons of traffic, lots of inventory and belief in the power of testing. What would you test and why?