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What works: REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods take on loyalty-driven mobile apps

November 12, 2012

Both REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods are retailers challenged at carrying a massive amount of inventory. To tackle the issue, both companies have put loyalty and search at the center of their mobile efforts.

Similar to other big box retailers, loyalty is also a big emphasis for both REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods. This is emphasized in both companies’ mobile initiatives but is particularly strong in the apps.

“Consumers want to have a choice of convenient shopping options,” said Simon Buckingham, CEO of Appitalism, New York.

“Whether they shop via an app or mobile site or in-store should be their option based on their preference and current circumstances,” he said.

Mr. Buckingham is not affiliated with either REI or Dick’s Sporting Goods. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

REI and Dick’s Sporting Goods did not respond to press inquiries.


Mobile site
REI’s mobile site has a simple redirect at

The site features a revolving carousel at the top of the page that flips through current promotions and deals that are similar to the ones offered on the company’s Web site.

Products are divided by brand, type and sale items. Since REI carries a wide variety of of brands, the company most likely has a group of consumers that come to its mobile site to shop one particular brand.

Product pages include a tap-to-zoom feature to get a for closer look on items. Products can be added to shopping carts, wish lists or can be tracked to a particular store’s inventory.

REI’s mobile site

Products can then be shared via Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, links to REI’s social media accounts are promoted along the bottom of the mobile site.

To buy items as a guest without an REI account involves a long, lengthy form that asks users to fork over multiple pieces of information. For example, users must enter a day phone number to check-out. There is also a field for a night time phone number, which might be unnecessary and time consuming for mobile users that already have shorter attention spans than desktop users.

The site also ties into REI’s loyalty program to speed up check-out time, check order statuses and write product reviews.

REI primarily uses its mobile site to drive online sales, but a button in the upper left-hand corner of the site lets users either use their device’s built-in GPS or type in a ZIP code to find a nearby store.

Search results then show consumers a list of stores — including the services that each store features — as well as a click-to-call, click-to-map and information on store hours.

Call-to-action to download REI’s mobile apps are placed on the homepage of the mobile site, which include a shopping app, a snow report app and a Visa app that lets users apply and manage REI Visa cards.

Users are then directed to a landing page to choose their appropriate device’s App Store. Again, this is an unnecessary step — it would make more sense to use an auto-detect feature and drop users directly into the correct app store.

IPhone app
REI’s shopping iPhone app contains similar commerce-enabled features from the company’s mobile site.

Although content looks similar between the company’s mobile site and app, information in the app is stacked into categories such as size, color and reviews. Each category requires consumers to click through to view it, which can make it difficult for consumers to view multiple pieces of information at once.

Compared to the REI’s mobile site, the company’ app is meant to work as an in-store guide to help consumers shop.

For example, the app uses a device’s built-in camera to let consumers scan UPC and mobile bar codes. The section also includes a how-to page with tips that walk users through the process of scanning products.

Additionally, a tab at the bottom of the page helps users find bricks-and-mortar stores. Stores can then be viewed as either a list or on a map.

The REI iPhone app

Consumers with a REI online account can create wish lists of items. Additionally, users can search for wish lists from friends and family by name.

Interestingly, social media is not included in REI’s app even though it is strongly promoted on the company’s mobile site.

The bottom line: REI’s mobile site and app are both strongly aimed at driving online sales. Search is a big focus in both to help users quickly navigate a massive list of inventory.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Mobile site
Dick’s Sporting Goods’ mobile site redirects at

The top of the page features a carousel that specifically pushes deals and offers for online shopping.

The site is set up so that products are stacked by category on the homepage.

Additionally, a bar at the bottom of the screen lets consumers sign up for email alerts. Buttons include Facebook, Twitter, Google + and YouTube.

A click-to-call button lets consumers contact the company directly.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods mobile site

Brand-specific searching is not highlighted as much as it is on REI’s mobile site. Instead, consumers can narrow down search results to brands once a sport is selected.

Dick’s Sporting Goods mobile site also uses location to help consumers find the nearest store. Consumers can also log-in to their accounts to track their orders, set their billing and shipping address and manage their email preferences.

When it comes to app promotion, Dick’s Sporting Goods misses the mark without a clear call-to-action that encourages users to download it.

For brands with both a mobile site and iPhone app, cross-promotion is key, especially for apps that have a stronger loyalty and repeat usage tied to them.

Overall, the site is effective in driving online Dick’s Sporting Goods drive online sales but could be more enticing in getting users to shop.

IPhone app
Compared to the mobile site, the Dick’s Sporting Goods iPhone app is the company’s sweet spot in mobile.

Primarily, the app ties in with the brand’s Scorecard rewards program. Users with an account can access a digital version of their rewards card, which can be scanned at the point-of-sale in-store.

The app also lets users manage their rewards points.

The Dick’s Sporting Goods iPhone app

Dick’s Sporting Goods’ iPhone app has a strong focus on location and in-store features. For example, consumers can find a weekly ad by searching for a specific store. Weekly promoted items can either be bought inside the app or tracked down to an individual store.

Similarly, the app includes a bar code and QR code scanner that consumers can use to learn more about products while in-store.

Additionally, the “shop” tab at the bottom of the app pulls in the company’s mobile site.

Social media is built into the Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Scorecard program and rewards users for “Liking” the brand’s Facebook page, following the company’s Twitter account and for checking-in via foursquare. Buttons inside the app connect users directly to all these social media outlets.

The bottom line: Even though the Dick’s Sporting Goods mobile site could be better, the company has clearly focused its efforts on its iPhone app as a digital hub for the company’s Scorecard rewards program.

“Typically apps are build in native code whereas mobile sites are built in technologies such as HTML5,” Mr. Buckingham said.

“Native code is typically quicker,” he said. “An app and a mobile site don’t need to differ significantly from each other in terms of functionality as a mobile-optimized experience can be provided by retailers for both.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily

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