The North Face Embarks on a New Journey

The North Face, approaching its 50th year, takes stock of a changing retail landscape.

North Face is 18th months shy of its 50th birthday. The anniversary marks a half century of success in the outdoor product market. Most known for fleeces, coats, footwear and exploration equipment, the North Face has cemented itself as one of the preeminent outdoor experience company.

Since 1968, the company’s DNA has been embroidered with exploration, or “for those who never stop.” That is apropos to their own customer experience as the company sets upon redesigning the brick-and-mortar locations over the next six months.

Currently, the North Face has 55 retail and 20 outlet locations in the US and many more internationally. The shift began in July, when The North Face remodeled the layout of a couple locations to “give customers the advantage of experiencing and interacting with the equipment,” according to Eric Searles, vice president to consumer at The North Face,

The remodeling included a refocusing on items available for purchase, such as mountain or urban exploration equipment, and notable, display items, like a dome tent used on a Mount Everest expedition.

The company is also hoping to provide customers with more opportunities to stay longer in the store.

The North Face brick-and-mortar locations will add spots where customers are encouraged to “relax and reflect”, a coffee shop, a delivery service for nearby hotels, and a guide center to provide localized outdoor information.

“The goal is to inspire our customers to get outside and enjoy the outdoors,” Searles said. “As our athletes continue to explore, we want our customers to have all of the tools to never stop exploring.”

The San Francisco based company devised the new layout by analyzing multiple different sources, such test spots, intercept face-to-faces and heat mapping.

“The marketplace requires our company and brand to be nimble,” Searles said. “And as a leader in the industry, we have to maintain constant evolution in our consumer relationship and engagement.”

Connection is not only based in the physical store, the North Face has also established an extensive reach on social media with athlete videos, as well as, email campaigns.

“The market today has become much more seamless with technological interaction,” Searles said, “but we also gain a great deal through maintaining in-store interactions with customer feedback.”

With a fall brand campaign expected to hit stores soon and a brand new 5th Avenue location in New York set to open, the North Face is focused on the DNA of exploration in new ways.

“The brand is constantly evolving,” said Searles. “We have to continually define and redefine the territory of outdoor exploration; it is critical to how we approach the future.”

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