REI sells a new model for the future of retail

“Retail is moving toward capital-E environments,” explains REI President and CEO Wally Smith. “For some people, that means Entertainment. For us, it means Education.” This educational mission is behind almost every feature in the store: One of the basic filters that we ran each of our ideas through was, Does it teach customers something?

The REI superstore is enthusiastically interactive. But you won’t find flashy video screens, high-speed Internet connections, or any of the other all-too-familiar trappings of entertainment retailing. Here, interactivity takes the form of testing stations, where customers can use the products before committing to them. The store’s climbing rock and bike track are its two most high-profile stations. There’s also a Rain Room, where hikers test weather-resistant outerwear; a pool filled with brackish water, where campers test water purifiers; and an Illumination Station, where cyclists test lights.

Such work-life integration makes for energized salespeople — and a better store. “The buyers don’t just say, ‘Here’s the gear,’ ” Edquist explains. “They see us as a resource: ‘This guy has used every ice tool we sell. Is our selection where it needs to be?’ ” Diane Levy, 32, a sales specialist in the snowsport and paddling specialty shops, shares Edquist’s perspective. “We’ve chased bad products out of here,” she says. “That helps make us feel that this is our store.”

This clever mix of customer experience and organizational development has supercharged REI’s growth. Value through innovation and employee engagement makes the firm cutting edge in setting the tone for the future of retail. No World Borders organizational development and process innovation consulting teams can help you unlock the value in your firm.

Michael Arrigo

Michael is Managing Partner & CEO of No World Borders, a leading healthcare management and IT consulting firm. He serves as an expert witness in Federal and State Court and was recently ruled as an expert by a 9th Circuit Federal Judge. He serves as a patent expert witness on intellectual property disputes, both as a Technical Expert and a Damages expert. He leads a team that provides Cybersecurity best practices for healthcare clients, ICD-10 Consulting, Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records. He advises legal teams as an expert witness in HIPAA Privacy and Security, medical coding and billing and usual and customary cost of care, the Affordable Care Act and benefits enrollment, white collar crime, False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback, Stark Law, Insurance Fraud, payor-provider disputes, and consults to venture capital and private equity firms on mHealth, Cloud Computing in Healthcare, and Software as a Service. He advises self-insured employers on cost of care and regulations. Arrigo was recently retained by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding a significant false claims act investigation. He has provided opinions on over $1 billion in health care claims and due diligence on over $8 billion in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. Education: UC Irvine - Economics and Computer Science, University of Southern California - Business, studies at Stanford Medical School - Biomedical Informatics, studies at Harvard Medical School - Bioethics. Trained in over 10 medical specialties in medical billing and coding. Trained by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and PTAB Judges on patent statutes, rules and case law (as a non-attorney to better advise clients on Technical and Damages aspects of patent construction and claims). Mr. Arrigo has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and National Public Radio.

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