Have visions of fly-fishing the trout streams of the American West but don't know where to start? The Orvis Company can outfit you. Through about 80 stores in the US and the UK, the retailer offers high-end equipment and apparel for fly-fishing (including rods and reels) and hunting (guns and knives), as well as home furnishings, travel gear, and gifts. It also sells through about 350 independent dealers worldwide, and by catalog and website. In addition to retailing, Orvis offers fly-fishing and shooting lessons and international vacation packages. The family of chairman Leigh Perkins Sr. owns and runs the company. Founded in 1856, Orvis has staked a claim as the oldest mail-order company in the US.
Sales at Orvis had fallen as consumers reeled in their spending amid the ailing economic environment. Catalog circulation slowed, as well, when the recession took root. To this end, the company has been reaching out to customers through yet another sales channel: the Internet. Revenue from Orvis' e-commerce operation has risen as a result, prompting a shift to grow its customer base online.
To secure its place online and boost sales, Orvis in 2010 partnered with Bazaarvoice to enhance its customers' online experience and provide a platform for conversations between Orvis and its outdoor enthusiast customers. Bazaarvoice specializes in hosting online social commerce platforms. Initially, Orvis rolled out such features as Ratings & Reviews, Ask & Answer, and Stories to interact with customers and gain valuable feedback. The sporting goods retailer eventually launched Bazaarvoice's entire suite of products to cover the purchasing process from beginning to end. The move, so far, has proven to be successful. Orvis has seen double-digit sales increases among many of its product categories. Additionally, from the feedback the company receives, Orvis plans to make changes to its merchandising, marketing, customer service, and product development. Orvis also creates podcasts for online viewing to promote fly fishing and hunting.
To promote environmental stewardship, Orvis donates 5% of its annual pretax profits to fish and wildlife conservation programs. The company has supported such organizations as Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and The Conservation Fund. – less