Jay Berlin, Sportsman’s Guide CEO, gave us exclusive insight to the brand’s latest developments.
If you haven’t been to SportsmansGuide.com as of this morning, you’ll notice some big differences, mainly in the look and feel.
It’s all part of company’s efforts to reintroduce their products, services and online presence to their already loyal followers, as well as a whole new generation of sportsmen and women.
We got an exclusive scoop on the changes from Sportsman’s Guide CEO Jay Berlin, who is understandably excited to share more than a year’s worth of work with his customers, both old and new.
If there’s anyone who can lead an established e-retailer into a new era, it’s the Minneapolis-born and bred Berlin. Positions with Fingerhut and Northern Tool and Equipment introduced him to mid-sized company ideals, as well as the values intrinsically embedded in a retailer with a robust catalog presence.
“I found a balance between fueling my analytical side with the creativity and entrepreneurialism that’s required if you’re really going to make it,” Berlin said. “I absolutely love this industry. I’ve said to my friends that, if I win the lottery, I’d do this stuff for free.”
Taking the Next Steps
Berlin said Sportsman’s Guide, a 37-year old company, recently realized that their customer research strategies were shining light on some major ideas. A series of surveys and focus groups helped provide insight into the lives, passions and thoughts of their typical outdoor customers.
From there, a vision for the future took shape, with strong emphasis on the online experience for sportsmen. A completely redesigned website, along with a redesigned catalog, new branding and new stylization, is now being unveiled.
“What we’re really working on developing is the passion side of what our customers told us,” Berlin said. “We’re really trying to build out, through a campaign called ‘Share the Thrill,’ a way to help customers connect with each other, share their wisdom, stories, pictures of that trophy catch or trophy buck, whatever they’re passionate about in the outdoors, and help them connect with each other.”
That’s a distinct step away from the typical “Pro Staff Reviews” or “Suggested by the Guide” methodology used by other big outdoor retailers.
Mixed in are a new, redesigned blog site as well as enhanced mobile capabilities, another trending movement that Sportsman’s Guide is paying attention to.
Functionality and navigation on the site are enhanced, and the updated logo and color scheme is meant to appeal to a wider audience and raise awareness amongst sportsmen and women.
More Than Gear
Another major trend that Berlin and Sportsman’s Guide are focusing on is the blend of content and commerce. Beyond an enhanced product review and Q&A system, the company also offers a unique take on content through a blog-style sister site called Guide Outdoors, which can be found at Guide.SportsmansGuide.com.
Guide Outdoors is the Sportsman’s Guide’s community and sharing site. Ballistic charts, wildlife department directories, state-by-state resources, buying guides, featured articles by experienced sportsmen and women and plenty more helpful information is delivered here, and bringing outdoorsmen and women together through that information is an ongoing goal.
“To be able to link content and commerce is really important,” Berlin added. “There’s a passionate following, and if people can put the right content out there, people will come to that site again and again, and want to engage and connect.”
Berlin and Sportsman’s Guide already have a loyal following, with around half of their customers belonging to the Buyer’s Club, which awards special discounts and deals. They also know this is an opportunity to let more people know who they are. “We’re obviously not the household name that some of the big box, outdoor sporting good retailers are out there today, and we’re really out to change that.”
Another way Sportsman’s Guide is focusing on their customers is by promoting the outdoor youth and mentor movement. Berlin said that any young person who gets introduced to hunting, fishing or shooting does so through an adult who’s willing to teach. If that doesn’t continue at its current pace, the future of the outdoors could look very different.
“It’s fun to see what people, even in their early 20s, are pioneering in our industry,” Berlin said, speaking to e-commerce but mirroring thoughts about the outdoors industry as well. “For so many people in the space now, they grew up with a device in their hand, or on their desktop, and so the entrepreneurialism and creativity and ideas that come out of the younger audience in our industry and in our space is incredibly fun.”
The culture being promoted by Sportsman’s Guide, both inward and outward, is one that’s fun, passionate and hard working, but not afraid of change. That’s what’s happening to the outdoor industry as a whole, and it’s only fitting that a company like Sportsman’s Guide is recognizing it and adjusting accordingly.
“I could not be more proud of what’s happening this year,” Berlin summed up. “This vision that we developed is starting to show in a big way.”
You know you already want to Share the Thrill, and Sportsman’s Guide is the place to do it.