Moosejaw Leverages Its Small Size

Discussion
Oct 07, 2013
Al McClain

Sometimes, being the "little guy" can be an advantage. In an interview with RetailWire last week at Shop.org, Dan Pingree, VP of marketing for Moosejaw, and Dominique Levin, the VP of Marketing for AgilOne, explained how they work together to drive revenue via personalized relationship marketing.

Moosejaw, according to the company, is the third largest (by revenue) outdoor gear and apparel retailer. At the core of Moosejaw’s "most fun outdoor retailer on the planet" philosophy, which includes not taking itself too seriously and even being a little snarky. For example, there is its guarantee, the "Moosejaw Living Will," which states, in part, that customers can still return products "if they are dead," but that if product is returned in unsellable condition it will be shipped back to the customer who will not receive a refund.

While big retailers may spend more on data and analytics, Moosejaw works at speaking with the customer in a unique voice and meshing creativity with data so it can deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. As Mr. Pingree explained, Moosejaw spends a lot of time and effort building profiles on customers and improving relationships with its best customers. Moosejaw is able to analyze each customer on 400 dimensions to determine his/her lifetime value and communicate accordingly.

With only 11 physical stores, 85 percent of Moosejaw’s business is online. It has an active Facebook presence (90,000+ likes) and seems to use it to connect with fans by having a little fun, holding drawings for free product and answering customer queries. (The retailer answers every single one.) Moosejaw has over 21,000 followers on Twitter, which seems to be mainly used to joke around and answer the occasional inquiry. And they have a loyalty program that provides 10 percent-back credits with auto enrollment and accrual as soon as an item ships.

Mr. Pingree said Moosejaw’s creativity and sense of fun can sometimes be taken too far, getting the company into hot water. The retailer’s customers and Facebook fans let them know it when that happens so the company can adjust. One advantage Moosejaw has is that it isn’t a public company, so it doesn’t have to work at satisfying Wall Street, although it is owned by two private equity firms — Parallel Partners (Dallas, TX) and Glenco Capital (Detroit, MI) — so one would think they are looking for ROI.

Are smaller retailers such as Moosejaw in a better position to take risks that help them to stand out in a crowd? Has the cost of predictive analytics and digital marketing gotten to the point where smaller merchants can do it as well or better than the big guys?

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8 Comments on "Moosejaw Leverages Its Small Size"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

The fun factor cannot be overstated. Many employees are expected to leave their personality at the door, and certainly in front of customers. That leads to a ‘them vs us mentality’ which has to impact the shopping experience.

With more and more retailers looking for technology to engage shoppers, it is the oft overlooked fun factor that makes the difference between a repeat visit and a one-off. Sounds like Moosejaw is finding a way to integrate fun at many levels. Hats off to them!

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
7 years 3 months ago

Retailers should always consider taking risks to help them stand out in a crowd, providing they don’t sacrifice margins in the process. So much of what is practiced today is technical and digital rather than just fun retailing.

Mark Price
Guest
Mark Price
7 years 3 months ago

Small retailers are in a much better position to be agile and take risks than larger retailers, since most of the smaller competitors are private and do not have to answer to the industry analysts.

In addition, the cost of technology has declined to a point where smaller retailers can afford systems that several years ago, only the “Big Guys” could use. As a result there is not a data or analysis gap between the larger and smaller retailers either.

Finally, smaller retailers can more easily connect and influence the store associates, thereby creating a more seamless customer experience.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
7 years 3 months ago

Smaller retailers have the great advantage of not having tied themselves in knots with analytic this and digital that. They are more consistently focused on their customers as people, on building relationships one customer at a time, and on providing value as defined by their customers.

That’s not to say that they aren’t also focused on being the most efficient operators they can be, but the emphasis is on better serving customers rather than merely cutting costs.

That said, in those mass-market segments where price is king, the mass-market machine retailers will always deliver the lowest price. But for retailers like Moosejaw, who are serving their customer’s passions rather than their utilitarian needs, retailing will always be about a lot more than just price.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Predictive analytics and digital marketing have lowered the barrier to entry for small retailers, who can enjoy taking some creative liberties and have fun with their brand and customers.

I especially like the fact that Moosejaw “is able to analyze each customer on 400 dimensions” and makes a serious effort to build customer profiles and know them well.

This is helpful information when a brand is using creativity and snarky humor to entertain customers and gain exposure through traditional and social media channels.

Brian Numainville
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Given that technology, digital marketing and social media are all within everyone’s grasp now, those retailers who can be agile, differentiate themselves and have fun at retail have an advantage. And sometimes taking a risk can yield a great reward!

Sarah Dulak
Guest
Sarah Dulak
7 years 3 months ago

This kind of technology is starting to be adopted across mid-market retailers and allowing them to function as effectively as a large marketing organization while creating surprise and delight in their campaigns. Moosejaw is an awesome example of this!

Roger Saunders
Guest
7 years 3 months ago

Most entrepreneurs and small retailers get into a business to exercise creativity, innovation, and freedom to express themselves. Their larger counterparts are too often restricted in what they are “permitted” to say.

The consumer recognizes this paradox, and, if the humor strikes the right chords, it becomes an area of admiration and appreciation by the customer. The small retailer cannot out-resource bigger competitors on capital – human, physical, and financial – but they can out maneuver them on building the connection with the customer. The next trick is to systematize it, as the company grows. Southwest Airlines figured out that formula years ago.

Sing out Moosejaw, and keep ’em laughing. Your followers will laugh with you, and gladly ring that cash register. Here’s hoping that you’re flying as high as Southwest Airlines in years to come.

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