Outside Business Journal
Sponsor Content: Nikwax

How One Brand Is Evolving the Way It Supports Specialty Retailers

Nikwax heard the challenges of retailers and developed programs to boost sales

A relative newcomer to the outdoor scene walks into a brick-and-mortar retailer in search of a waterproof jacket to bring on his first big backpacking trip with friends. He finds the gear intimidating and the prices shocking, but thankfully, an educated staff member explains the importance of proper equipment above tree line. Moreover, he walks out of the store clutching his new purchase along with product samples and the know-how to care for and maintain his investment for years to come. That’s time well spent, and certainly an experience that can’t be bought online. And, Nikwax is doing their part to make sure consumers can continue to interface with experts by supporting their retailers.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are facing unprecedented upheaval with the growth of the online marketplace. But, there is plenty to celebrate: in 2017, 90 percent of retail sales were handled with in-store transactions. In order to accommodate the influx of customers, the United States retail industry employed upwards of 13 million people in the same year. Unfortunately, this is complicated by a 35 percent turnover rate that amounts to $19 billion in costs to hire and train new employees. Since engaged employees are paramount to a positive customer experience, it’s imperative that retailers find new ways to train staff and educate consumers on site.

Nikwax has some ideas and they are garnering successful results.

Get Employees’ Hands on Products

Increasing sell-through of products starts with ensuring staff fully understand what they are selling. Many brands resort to videos and quizzes that employees are asked to view and complete during their work breaks adding stress to their jobs and decreasing effectiveness of learning. Nikwax has a better solution: experiential education.

“Retail staff are a critical resource for shops,” said Heidi Allen, Nikwax VP of marketing. “Their expertise elevates a retail store above the online experience. However, we found that traditional online training methods can be burdensome for the retail staff. We wanted to get them the tools they need to become product experts into their hands as fast as possible.”

Nikwax created their ‘Feel the Love’ kit to be given to staff members to encourage and enhance training. The kits include samples of Tech Wash and TX.Direct (wash-in cleaner and waterproofing), an educational booklet, and a card with information about where to go to learn more and how to sign up for monthly incentives. In short, Nikwax gives employees free product to use and experience for themselves which better equips them to educate potential customers. Once they are initially trained, staff members get continued support with monthly emails containing deals, incentives, and access to new products to continue their education.

Educating Consumers Is Just as Important

"A circular image of jackets on a rack with a green tag that says \"I like to be clean!\" sits on a white background. Overlaid are close ups of the…"
The hang-tag creative teaches customers which product is best to maintain their investment.  (Photo: Courtesy)

Nikwax also launched seasonal retail kits that include a variety of tools to help customers learn about the proper care after purchase. One of the bigger success stories from these kits is the use of how-to-care hang tags on product. For example, a retailer would use the included zip-ties to secure hang-tags on a line of hardshell jackets. While perusing the jackets, the potential consumer could read the hang tag to learn more about how to clean the waterproof shell with Nikwax Tech Wash, ensuring the integrity of the gear investment and frequently aiding in add-on sales of Nikwax products.

Retailers such as Seattle-based Ascent Outdoors have seen great success with the hang-tag program. Additionally, to up the ante, Ascent Outdoors opted to offer a discount on Nikwax products when purchased with an accompanying item. The results speak for themselves.

“Since we implemented the tags, every month has been the best month we’ve had with Nikwax since we started with the POS back in 2014,” said Sam Lozier, the buyer for Ascent Outdoors. “In June we more than doubled our 2017 number.”

Sales are important, of course. So is loyalty. Nikwax is enabling retailers to offer a better experience that creates repeat customers by effectively educating both employees and customers. This is something that Leanna Andersen, soft goods buyer for Seattle’s Fisheries Supply Co., appreciates the most.

“So many consumers didn’t even know they could wash foul-weather gear,” she said. “The hang tags are great for opening a line of conversation that helps us help them get exactly what they need. Those extra $10 or $20 sales are important but it’s even more valuable to us to know that our customers are covered.”

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