What We Learned From A Brand New Outdoor Retailer (or Why Envoy Is More Relevant Than Ever)

Feb 7, 2018 | Jon Faber

Outdoor Retailer (OR) is the country’s largest outdoor recreation expo and conference. So it was a natural fit for Envoy to be there, given that our clients are outdoor and lifestyle brands. And there was no better location than Denver to bring these brands and their buyers together.

We talked to a lot of people at OR, each with a different story. But after talking to so many attendees, we started to see certain patterns emerge in what they were telling us.

Here are Envoy’s three main takeaways from OR.

1. Plan for the future, because Shopify and/or spreadsheets won’t get you there.

Out-of-the-box e-commerce solutions like Shopify are fine for a tiny mom-and-pop operation or the guy selling t-shirts out of his basement. But it’s not a platform built to meet the demands of the footwear and apparel industry. It’s a one size fits all solution with limited wholesale B2B functionality that brands will inevitably outgrow.

Spreadsheets won’t work either. There’s too much manual work involved. One OR attendee told us that she spends six hours a day keying orders into a spreadsheet. Compare that with 20 minutes a day using a dedicated e-commerce platform specifically designed for footwear and apparel companies.

In short, if you’re only dealing with immediate concerns, then you’re not taking the long view. Do you want to stay small? Or do you want to grow?

2. Attending a tradeshow isn’t enough. You need to go beyond the booth.

We saw all sorts of great booths set up by brands delivering rich, interactive experiences to retailers. But now that OR is over, what are those brands doing to keep their buyers engaged?

More to the point, what is your brand doing to maintain a good working relationship with your retailers?

You need to take the experience that you gave your retailers at OR—interacting with your product and getting educated about your brand—and extend it all year long.

How are you planning to do it?

3. Retail isn’t dead. It’s just changing.

There were loads of buyers at the expo, and we kept hearing in our conversations about how strong they thought the show was.

And it’s not hard to figure out why. Buyers like being engaged; they like experiences.

The retail landscape is changing to reflect this reality. Purchases are becoming less and less transactional and more and more experiential. (It’s no wonder, then, that big-box stores are suffering while specialty retail is growing.)

Growing brands need to adjust their strategy to account for this shifting landscape.

Are you delivering an experience to your buyers? Or just a transaction?

So as 2018 unfolds, ask yourself three questions:

  1. What are we doing to plan for growth?
  2. What are we doing to keep our buyers engaged and educated?
  3. What are we doing to move away from transactions and move towards experiences?

Envoy has an answer for each of these questions. Get in touch to learn more and try our free 30-day trial.

Denver was a great location for OR—a real breath of fresh air. There was a real excitement at the show, and we’re looking forward to heading back again this summer.

We’ll see you there!

Jon Faber


Chief Executive Officer

Jon has specialized in pushing the Wholesale B2B landscape forward for the past 8 years by championing feature innovation and generating high volume, high value content for forward thinking footwear and apparel brands.