Just months before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the Outdoor Industry Association released a study showing that only half of the U.S. population participated in outdoor recreation.
Lise Aangeenbrug, the association’s executive director, told Outside Online that the study showed that America was becoming “an indoor nation.”
But COVID-19 changed everything for outdoor recreation. Public health orders essentially gave Americans two options: stay at home or get outside. One survey found that 66% of Americans said they’re doing more outdoor activities close to home in a post-COVID world and 32% are participating in more outdoor activities than ever.
This shift in outdoor recreation has been reflected in ecommerce behaviors. Outdoor products, which Amazon originally deprioritized at the beginning of the pandemic, saw a huge spike in opportunity as people spent more time outside. But brands couldn’t fully harness the increased demand because of supply issues—they either didn’t have enough product on hand or enough product allocated specifically to Amazon.
As a result, many outdoor brands have changed their ecommerce strategies for 2021 in hopes of being more prepared for what’s shaping up to be another big year for outdoor gear.
It’s difficult to predict how mass vaccinations and a decrease in coronavirus infections will affect the ecommerce demand for outdoor gear. While people may have a newfound appreciation for nature thanks to 2020’s lockdowns, they may also decide to revert to their old ways of spending most of their time indoors. But some key indicators show that the demand for outdoor gear will remain high in 2021.
National park data, for example, shows that people are more eager than ever to visit national parks in 2021. Great Smoky Mountains National Park experienced its busiest January ever in 2021 with more than 500,000 visitors. Zion National Park reported more than 172,000 visits in January 2021, making it only the third time ever the park topped 100,000 visits in January. The Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina also experienced its busiest January on record in 2021.
The demand for hunting and fishing licenses has also dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued more fishing licenses in 2020 than it had in a single year since 2008. California hunting licenses also increased by 11% from 2019 to 2020. Oregon sold 18% more angling licenses in 2020 than it did in 2019. Idaho also saw dramatic increases in fishing license sales.
In a similar vein, boat sales have also seen record highs amid coronavirus shutdowns. The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported more powerboat purchases in 2020 than the industry has seen since before the 2008 recession.
If people continue to use their newly purchased outdoor gear, licenses, and boats, then 2021 will be another year with a heightened focus on outdoor recreation close to home. As vaccination rates rise, it’s also likely that consumers will travel and plan bigger adventures to make up for lost time.
While different outdoor brands are responding differently to the new ecommerce landscape in the industry, most are shifting their focus toward direct-to-consumer business. Some are launching new products and tools to meet the increasing demand for outdoor products.
Carie Behe, the GTM Marketing Manager for Cotopaxi, has seen outdoor recreation grow in popularity since she started working in the industry more than a decade ago. But she said COVID took that growth to the next level. Cotopaxi is preparing for another big season for close-to-home recreation with new launches in 2021 and eventually international travel and big adventure trips in late 2021 and 2022.
“The brand sees that there is this increased level of outdoor participation, that there is an increased number of people that are recreating closer to home and are looking for versatile products that can go with them on various outdoor adventures,” Behe said. “I think Cotopaxi is really doing a great job of addressing that with some of the products that we're launching this summer.”
Charlie Ninegar, the Vice President of Sales for Nixon Watches, said the pandemic shifted Nixon’s balance between wholesale business and direct-to-consumer business. While both channels saw increased demand, direct-to-consumer business especially flourished in 2020. Nixon was already heading in that direction, but the pandemic accelerated the process.
“If any business in a brand was lagging in their focus on direct selling efforts, the pandemic must have changed their point of view on that,” Ninegar said. “It’s not an option, if you were a product category like us, to not be focused on that side of the business. The pandemic doubled down on how important it is to have a direct relationship with your customers.”
Flip flop brand Havaianas has also seen a shift to digital business as a result of the pandemic. Havaianas President Jacob Uhland said that COVID-19 took Havaianas’ sales from 70% brick-and-mortar and 30% digital to 70% digital and 30% brick-and-mortar. In response, Havaianas closed 14 of its 21 storefronts and prioritized its website.
“We call it the digital revolution,” Uhland said. “We’ve pivoted all of our investments into all of our digital channels. Our stores were off significantly, but we were able to cover 100% of that loss through Havaianas.com.”
Uhland said he believes in the future of brick-and-mortar, however, and doesn’t expect ecommerce to maintain its current level of prominence as the pandemic draws to an end.
Like Havaianas, insole brand Superfeet also made up for its brick-and-mortar losses with a shift to ecommerce. Linda Balfour, the Vice President of Marketing at Superfeet, said the pandemic accelerated Superfeet’s ecommerce efforts, which will continue to remain a focus into 2021.
“We launched an online insole recommendation tool and product videos to help people easily find the right Superfeet for them,” Balfour said about Superfeet’s adaptations to a post-COVID world. “Further development and deployment of those tools will remain a high priority for us and will be core to how we operate in the future.”
Although no one can predict the future of ecommerce—a fact that 2020 has made abundantly clear—it’s evident that the demand for outdoor gear will remain high in 2021. It’s also evident that outdoor brands, along with brands in almost every other category, have entered a digital revolution with direct-to-consumer business at its forefront.
If your brand is looking to be better prepared for digital ecommerce and the demand of online marketplaces, Pattern can help. Talk through your concerns and brand needs with us today.
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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.