Shop Talk: The Future of Retail in Transformation

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As outdoor culture becomes more accessible, we will continue to see an industry in transformation, one of continuous openness and camaraderie with more diverse participants adopting a looser and more fluid cultural lifestyle. With this idea in mind, we talked shop with Huckberry’s Chief Merchandising Officer, Ali Ruhfel, and Snow Peak’s East Coast Sales Coordinator, Hazel Rogerson, to have them weigh in on the changing landscape of outdoor retail.

What are the most important changes impacting the outdoor industry?

Increasingly inclusive:

Hazel Rogerson: Diversity and inclusiveness are definitely becoming more important. People are starting to get a bit more confident in themselves and their place in the outdoor industry. Previously marginalized groups are starting to feel more included and getting more jobs in the outdoor industry. This allows for others to feel more comfortable and excited to get outdoors.

From activity to lifestyle:

Ali Ruhfel: The industry is less intimidating than it used to be. You don’t have to be planning to climb Mount Everest in order to get in and be accepted. Now there’s so much more accessibility whether it’s through social media and influencers, the versatility of brands and products, or the types of retailers out there, there is so much more accessibility to the culture.

Hazel Rogerson: Outdoor in general is evolving into more of a lifestyle, as opposed to the really hardcore, old-school, ac- tivity-oriented place. Before, you were a serious backpacker, mountain biker or skier. Now people want to be able to dip their toe into all of that, but they don’t want to feel pressured to commit to be so extreme.

Richer in-store experience:

Hazel Rogerson: People are starting to appreciate going to their local retailers. Because retailers are focusing more on providing an experience for their customers, that makes them want to come in and shop in their stores as opposed to buying things online. Whether it’s because of relationships they have with that store owner or the staff, it just feels more personal. People talk a lot about the death of retail. It’s not really the death of retail, just the death of bad retail. Those big box stores are falling to the wayside and it’s because they’re a lot less personal than your traditional one-door brick-and-mortars.

The future is personal:

Ali Ruhfel: It comes down to the customer experience and personalization. If the e-commerce companies are able to have deep intimacy and understanding of their customers and help them find the right products among all the options out there, they will be able to take retail to the next level. Maybe that’s a more personalized trip that people can actually buy or a pop-up experience giving people the opportunity to get outside, connect with likeminded people, and build a community and a place for themselves in the outdoors.

Images by Nicole Mason and Durwood Marshburn.

xx Aarika Hernandez

This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Eight.