Seattle based ski shop, Evo’s strong marketing practices and online community have earned it four Skiing Business Industry Awards. We caught up with Evo to learn how they integrate online-shopping, social media, and merchandising to gain industrywide recognition.
Evo received awards for Best marketing practices; Best in-shop merchandising: softgoods; Best in-shop merchandising: accessories; and Best digital services.
Best marketing practices
What do you guys do to get people in your shop and/or shop online?
We make sure we are getting in front of customers at the right time with relevant messaging. We drive traffic to our store and online using many channels—online and offline—as we know that marketing channels are all interrelated and work together. We have top rankings in search and are solid in comparison to other shopping engines due to our great prices and product assortment. We have a great group of affiliates and have engaging and robust email and social media calendars. For our store specifically, we use localized email sends and targeted print. Last fall, we mailed our first Evo catalog to a combination of existing customers and prospects. We are proud of the Evo story it communicated, and are pleased with the outcome.
We creatively use all of the marketing channels and are always looking at new ways to drive traffic. That said, we also believe that the most important way to drive quality traffic and deepen loyalty is to provide a positive experience at our store and on our site, and deliver excellent customer service in both.
How much time and money do you invest in your marketing initiatives?
We invest heavily in our marketing initiatives with smart, talented people and substantial amounts of money to support various programs. We spend our time and marketing dollars where we believe we will get the best return on investment. So, if we find something is working well, we invest further in it, if it makes sense to do so. Conversely, if we are not getting a desired return on an initiative, we figure out why and adjust time and dollar investments accordingly.
What’s the biggest tip you’d give retailers trying to reach a bigger audience and ultimately increase sales?
Manage your marketing dollars carefully to optimize traffic and associated conversion. Be data driven, but listen to your gut. Make sure your content and communication tone reflect your brand and relate to your customer in a way that is meaningful, informative and actionable. As they respond, make sure you are landing customers on pages that make sense and are running compelling and easy to understand promotions.
Listen to your customers, be relevant and deliver what you promise.
Best in-shop merchandising: softgoods
You do a big online business, but one of the Skiing Business awards you won was for in-store softgoods merchandising. How do you justify the floor space and ensure you have ample selection?
We carry a very broad assortment of brands and styles online. For the store, we edit the assortment down to the brands and styles that we believe reflects Evo’s brand, and one that is more tailored to the local customer who shops at our store. We know the importance of offering the right hardgoods and softgoods to support the activities we represent. As such, we look at product and brand sell-through performance, adjust to demand from customers and keep our assortment fresh and profitable on a regular basis.
The importance of representing softgoods is a critical factor to attain our overall store profitability since customers tend to shop for softgoods more often than hardgoods. There is also more natural crossover with softgoods than hardgoods, so that also helps allocate store space.
How often do you pick up new brands? What new brands are you looking at now?
We pay attention to trends and customer preferences in the market place and adjust our assortments accordingly. We pick up new brands if we see that they meet a particular niche we need to fill, or are relevant for Evo and our customers. This helps us keep tried-and-true brands at the core of our assortment, but also gives us the chance to keep the product mix interesting. We aren’t really looking at “new brands” in the industry as a whole, but the brands that we are growing are new brands to Evo.
How do you display your softgoods in the store? Are they paired in outfits, by brand, by color, or what?
Women’s softgoods are merchandised more by fabric content and color. Men’s are more merchandised by price and technical features.
Best in-shop merchandising: accessories
Within the accessory segment, what’s your biggest sales category, and what do you do to promote it?
Helmets are our biggest category. Helmets have become more than just safety gear—they’re now an integral part of someone’s outfit. Recognizing that, we promote them by offering the broadest assortment, and a wide range of prices so we can meet every customer’s needs for fit, brand, feature, style and price.
What tactics does your sales staff use to up the add-on sales with accessories?
We ask our customers if they are satisfied with the performance and comfort of their current gear—whether they are looking for a helmet, goggles or gloves. Depending on their response, we offer some new products for them to consider. We don’t oversell—our employees are not commissioned. Our employees listen to the customer’s needs and offer solutions to what they want by asking questions and knowing the products we carry. That’s our approach at both the retail store and on the phone.
How do you merchandise your accessories in the store?
We dedicate floor space for them, and make them accessible for customers. We also let our customers know that there are more colors and sizes in the stock room, and of course, online. We use manufacturer-provided fixtures for helmets and goggles since they are built to best represent these products in a space-efficient way, and we choose fixture programs that complement our Evo visual merchandising experience. For gloves, we built our own display fixture because we feel there is a need for customers to try on a variety of gloves and see many of the features, explain the differences—and to do this in a small environment. Building our own seemed to be the best solution for that.
Best digital services
What are you using on the digital front in addition to social media?
It really just boils down to our people and that we use the digital front as another medium to foster community in the way that we’ve built our company and culture at Evo. We see our employees and customers as the advocates of Evo—our community, lifestyle and sharing the passion of what we love to do. We have a great team here that tries every day to push the envelope both in their work and in their personal lives, which is really similar to the way our customers like to live their lives. Knowing there’s that similarity, and that customers like and want to hear from each other, we strongly encourage the use of social mediums to foster a place where information and experiences can be shared—whether it be product reviews, photos, favorite places, etc.—all online and offline.
What about in terms of social media: How are you using it? What are the benefits you see? How do you justify the time/money spent? Etc.
Evo has let its social media grow organically. We try to inform, educate and entertain with our channel. We choose topics that we think will resonate with our fans and get them talking about something cool or exciting—whether it’s a giant storm coming in off the Pacific or a contest to go to the X Games or Japan. We get the conversation going and our customers and fans fly with it. When you see how engaged your users are, it’s really exciting—like building new friends! Social Media is a cool space we can talk and hang out with our customers. The feedback we receive through our channels is invaluable because it helps us figure out what they want to see from Evo and what their friends are saying. It’s a really cool space to get some raw, honest feedback and some shout-outs too. Similar to what we’ve built at our store and our office culture, we are building that kind of community with social media where people want to hear from us, engage with us, and connect with each other. These relationships are important as they are also the common medium for customers to share the Evo story with friends and family.
What do you see other shops doing or not doing that they shouldn’t or should?
We love to see all the shops raise the bar for each other and get out there and really push the sport and the industry. If we all work together, growing the sport and community, we will all win. It really isn’t a matter of what we’re all doing but, rather, making sure we are sharing our passion for snowsports.