Live From E-Tail: Orvis Exec is Down on Silos

Washington—Brad Wolansky has a pet peeve. Wolansky, vice president of e-commerce at Orvis, hates it when his company sends coupons to Web buyers within 50 miles of an Orvis store–and those coupons can only be redeemed in the retail location.

Speaking at eTail on Tuesday, Wolansky said he is against selling silos, and cares more about getting the sale than what channel it should be attributed to. But he also understands why his company sends those store-only coupons.

“We’ve got a very real effort to get people into the stores and to experience the stores, and make them that multichannel customer,” Wolansky said. “Personally as a multichannel guy, it rubs me the wrong way, because I want my choice of channels.

But Wolansky has to admit that the coupon strategy works in getting the Web buyers into the stores. And once that happens, Orvis can start mailing catalogs to these multichannel buyers, and hopefully encourage them to buy more.

While Wolansky doesn’t see catalogs ever going away, he notes there’s a shift toward using the Web channel to acquire customers. “The catalog is my best advertising vehicle, period, stop, end of story,” Wolansky said. “We certainly have a very healthy online program and we certainly do acquire more customers online.

As far as new customer acquisition, he said, “we’re shifting our efforts online. But as a part of our marketing strategy, and a profitable way to get people to go online and make purchases, the catalog is still profitable for us.”

Orvis is mailing smaller catalogs these days, in part to address consumer environmental concerns. “I think we as an industry are trying to make catalogs thinner,” Wolansky said. For instance, “we used to have a 168-page book with six pages dedicated to fly boxes. Now we cut the fly boxes down to one page and direct the customer to the Web.”

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