Posted on August 31, 2005 by Roland
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is a U.S. chain of stores selling specialty outdoor gear and clothing. And, according to two articles recently published by the Puget Sound Business Journal from Seattle and in Internet Retailer, REI has decided that its store managers will use blogs to better communicate with its customers. I waited several weeks before looking at the REI blogs and there is still not a single reference to a blog on REI’s web site. REI managers are using a blogging tool to announce promotions or special events, but not as blogs.
Here is what wrote the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Managers at Recreational Equipment Inc. stores will soon use Web logs, or blogs, to connect with local customers, marking an early move into the blogosphere by a major local retailer.
The move will allow managers of the growing chain of outdoor gear to send customers e-mail from their stores tailored to local consumers’ interests.
In fact, REI blogs will be completely closed, at least for a while.
Unlike many blogs, which are often freewheeling exchanges among a number of posters, only managers at REI will be able to post items on REI blogs. Customers who would like to rap with managers online about their experiences at REI will have to wait, as the company is still deciding whether to open REI’s blogs to outside posts.
Internet Retailer gave more explanations.
REI Inc. is putting a different spin on a web log scheduled for a limited rollout in July. REI was looking for technology that would make it easier for local REI stores, which already have their own pages on REI.com, to post content about store news and events and to distribute that content to local e-mail lists. It also wanted to bring a standardized look to the grassroots efforts some stores already had undertaken on their own. It found the solution in blogging technology.
Blogging software developed for the program by Seattle e-mail technology developer What Counts will, in effect, make bloggers out of store personnel who use the tool to post local events and schedules. But while that content reflects the personality of REI as a company to the extent that it supports company values and mission, it’s not, at this point, intended as an extended platform for the personal attitudes of the individual blogger.
Even REI admits its managers are not writing blogs. REI is only interested by the underlying technology which allows an easy way to post fresh content.
So, what do you think of the REI’s approach?