Combining technology with physical retail to enhance the customer experience.

The challenge

Find new ways to enhance the REI in-store customer experience while improving the working conditions of REI employees.

The outcome

Designed and developed a proprietary in-store app to be used by REI employees to quickly locate, track, find and manage products in-store or nearby. The app increases employee efficiency and delivers a better customer experience merging physical and digital experiences for REI customers.

Scope of work / Personal contribution

  • Design strategy
  • Art Direction
  • Design
  • User Experience Design
  • Interactive Design
  • Mobile Design
  • Prototype Design
  • Environmental Design


For over 75 years, REI has a wonderful reputation for their in-store experience and dedication to customer service. Providing best-in-class outdoor products with exceptional service and company policies. They have been recognized as one of the best co-op's and ranked as Forbe's top companies.

To make the in-store experience better for customers, REI wanted to explore new ways to provide information about products to customers in a faster and more efficient way, without sacrificing the customer in-store experience. With all of the data, product information and inventory ready available, REI gave me an opportunity to explore ways in which we could utilize this data to enhance the in-store environment utilizing technology.

Defining the brand

Research was conducted in-stores. Talking with employees, gaining an understanding of their workflow, finding pains and understanding their jobs. Next, research was done on customers in the most popular departments within the stores. Observing customer behaviors, understanding their jobs, and identifying pains when shopping for outdoor items.

All of the researched combined gave us enough information to conceptualize different ideas for enhancing the in-store experience. Prototyping ideas before prototyping products.

Brand attributes defined

Understanding the audience

In this scenario, we realized we had two audiences. First, the employee of REI who would need to adopt a new way of working, communicating with customers and utilizing or learning new technology to their daily routine. It was imperative that we talked with as many employees as possible, understood their needs and prototyped ideas to them and gathered feedback before investing too much time and effort into a product they don’t want or would never use.

Second, the audience of the customer. If we can make their shopping experience measurably better and enjoyable, we win. We developed metrics for success and designed ideas around how to measure the success of improving an in-store experience.

Brand Archetypes Defined

REI Employee

New Customer

Returning Customer


The in-store experience is a valuable part of REI. Combined with the relationships between the REI employee and the customers, we built a positioning statement around these values to seek a solution to enhance the customer experience and make the employee’s job easier for finding, tracking and providing products in a fast and convenient way.

Positioning statement

Combing physical retail environment and digital technology to enhance the brand customer experience.

Positioning statement

Combing physical retail environment and digital technology to enhance the brand customer experience.

Brand Identity

Developing a digital brand identity that was familiar to employees and functioned similarly to and our native mobile iOS and android apps was essential. The interactive design, ux design and visual design needed to align with the existing digital brand that I had developed for REI during my work at the company. This allowed us to quickly make design decisions, align with the digital brand standards and guidelines and move quickly from prototype to fully developed product.

Prototype Design

After researching in-store situations and scenarios, our next step was to prototype ideas that would meet the requirements of employees and delight customers with a better overall experience for seeking and trying out new products in store.

With data available, we decided to prototype an app to be used by employees in-store that would track inventory within the current store, but also have the ability to find similar products at nearby stores. The data could be used to reserve, purchase and find various SKU’s of products that a customer may be looking for, shopping, or learning about from an employee.

User Experience Design

REI Ascent is an in-store mobile app designed to merge the physical inventory to an in-store digital experience. The challenge was to provide employees a digital solution to track inventory, not just within the current store, but throughout REI global inventory. The solution was to build an app that utilized global inventory data to allow employees to quickly find any outdoor gear for any customer.

Once an item is tracked, found or searched, the app performs on the spot purchasing for customers in-store. The inventory is then given to the customer or shipped to the store, or customer’s home.
The overall goal is to utilize more digital experiences in the physical world. By thinking from a visual and user experience perspective, we can continue to build real-world experiences that enhance a customer’s experience and enhance the brand, increase sales and visually create a streamlined experience online and in-store.


Through combining the needs of employees, customers, and improving in-store experiences, we successfully used data to create a new technology that increased revenue, efficiency and customer brand loyalty through improving the REI in-store experience. ROI is $3M per year in store based on providing available products, cutting down on employee time spent looking for inventory, checking out customers faster and building brand equity through better in-store experiences.




Creative Director

Jordan Lee


Jordan Lee

UX Lead

Lisa Blauvelt

Art Direction

Jordan Lee


Jordan Lee
Lisa Blauvelt
Stephanie Lorenz

Prototype Development

Jordan Lee

App Development

REI IT and Engineering