It’s not a shocker to anyone who regularly reads blogs, but I thought a few of these questions & answers with the CEO of Cabela’s were interesting on the shift of how they sell over the last 5 decades:
Q. Cabela’s started as a catalog company and then added retail stores and online shopping. What’s the future mix?
A: The common thread that runs through our 50 years is an absolutely maniacal approach to customer service. Being the best at customer service has simply taken us where the customer wanted us to go. … So where our (sales) channels go in the future, our customers tell us and we will follow them there. We listen.”
Q. What are you hearing now?
A: Email, as you and I know it, has become less and less relevant to the generation in high school and college, and maybe just out of college. For that generation, it’s all about social media and texting. … Plugging into that stream will be the next thing. We track it. We’re on Facebook. We have more than 600,000 Facebook fans. We’re involved with Twitter.
Q. How important is the printed catalog in 2011?
A: The catalog is becoming less of a shopping vehicle and more of a prompt to get all of us to go to the Internet. There’s less density there about product specifications. It’s more informational. How to use something. It’s all designed to pique your interest and get you to come to the Internet, where you can see the full array of everything we have to offer.
The interview also addresses some questions about why Cabela’s is opting for smaller stores and other business-type issues. It’s an interesting little peek at the company, even if not the most detailed.
Several years ago, I started to notice that I only viewed catalogs in order to get an idea of what to look for on a website. I don’t read or view those two things in the same way, so it was sometimes helpful to find things I might not otherwise have considered. But now we just toss the catalogs completely. I’m pretty sure the only catalog I’ve thought about in the last year was for Godiva, but that was simply because I was part of a nearly year-long focus group.