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How REI is building an outdoor ecosystem around its customers

September 1, 2021

The purpose of a retailer is changing. The core function may still be to sell products, but there are entire worlds being built up around consumers now that have — at least on the surface — little to do with products sitting on shelves.

The rise of experiential retail has led to stores increasingly offering various services, classes and events within their walls instead of just commodities. Greg Portell, lead of the global consumer practice at Kearney, pointed to cooking classes at the likes of Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma, or gardening classes hosted by Home Depot and Lowe’s, as examples of some of the more community-focused or educational events retailers have begun holding.

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