REI Gear Wizard

Camping offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the Great Out-Doors. How does the novice prepare for adventure?

User Research

In-store interviews with experienced campers revealed that they shopped for gear in preparation for a trip.

Surprisingly, specialty retailers often offer little or no guidance to the folks going into the wilderness for the first time who are shopping online.

Heuristic Analysis

Campmor, Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), The North Face (TNF), and REI are among the major players in this space. Their websites vary wildly in the breadth and depth of their offerings – and their presentation:

Tents & Shelters Backcountry Campmor EMS* TNF** Paragon REI
Search Results 336 146 308 29 22 510
Filters 15 6 6 4 4 12

22.4 24.3 51.3 7.25 5.5 42.5
Guides no yes yes no no yes
Ratings yes yes yes yes no yes
* Eastern Mountain Sports ** The North Face

There is little correlation between the number of products offered and their organization, filters or categorization. Heuristics – site-wide and categorically – vary tremendously.

Comparative/Competitive Analysis

Campmor's heuristics are ... challenging:

The EMS guide highlights five (5) tent features. But it does not explain how to choose among the 300+ tents they have on sale.

REI has the most comprehensice guides by far -- but they are not readily accessible.

"Expert Advice" is available from the 'supra nav', Camp & Hike expanded Top Nav, or on the Camp & Hike landing page.

But the user must scroll through 42(!) articles to find "How to Choose Tents for Camping."

The article is well-written and includes a video(!) and links to related articles. However it could be better presented: while Campmor's FAQ has its shortcomings, the FAQ format allows users to preview and index content.

Yet none of these guides offer specific product recommendations.

Persona & Problem Statement

Chuck and Carla are thirty-something Williamsburghers planning a honeymoon camping trip in August.

They like the outdoors but do not have any camping experience. They are shopping for the gear they need for a successful trip.

How might we improve these campers' outcomes – and REI's bottom line – by better matching campers' needs to suitable products?

Design: Information Architecture

"Expert Advice" is one of the hidden gems on the REI site. By putting contextual advice at the product level, we can position this information:

... It can better help users find the products that best meet their needs (especially the ones they didn't know they had).

Design: Gear Wizard

Engage the User by Personalizing Her Experience with an Interactive Tool

User Benefits
  • One-stop shopping
  • Comprehensive checklist
  • Top-rated gear recommendations
  • Increased confidence based on informed decision
Business Benefits
  • Increase sales
  • Reduce returns
  • Build brand loyalty

Design: Wizard Prototype

A prototype of the tent module is shown below:

When Do You Like to Go Camping?
Spring • Summer • Fall
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Spring • Summer • Fall • Winter
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