Bass Pro Shops are inspired by nature, wildlife, and the outdoors. They use scenic murals to bring the outdoors inside with vivid graphics and realism. Each specific store throughout North America is tweaked for uniqueness but similarity amongst the brand.
– A lodge you would find secluded in a forest area inspires the exterior of the store. The structure itself is made with wood and outlined with wooden tree trunks. Tree trunks also hold up the entrance of the store and from the minute you enter the premises you can feel an outdoor inspiration that is already achieved from the moment you visualize the store.
– Bass Pro Shops have developed a brand image that is consistent from its product down to the physical walls of the store. The inspiration for the interior is to achieve a connection with the product and the store itself. For example the fishing gear will be surrounded with fishing rods and then the walls will be fishing murals and an aquarium. Themes continue throughout the entire store with every different activity being the central focus.
-Bass Pro Shops main competitors are located in the United States since majority of the stores are situated there.
-The main competitors that specialize in sports and recreational equipment are Academy Sports and Outdoors, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Eastern Mountain Sports.
-Bass Pro shops are unique in comparison to other sports and recreation stores because they offer an experience.
-They are an experience retailer that thrives on giving the consumer a quality product and a lasting impression of the store.
-Each Bass Pro shop depending on the size contains a one or more water features that displays fish that are dominant in that area.
-There are rock-climbing features in some or stimulated canoe rides.
-Another advantage that Bass Pro Shop has over their competitors are the skill workshops and live demonstrations that give extra product knowledge to their customer.
-Bass Pro Shops target market is males, aged from 10 to 65.
-The reason for such a large demographic is because Bass Pro caters to males of any age. It could be a 10-year-old boy going to get his first fishing rod to fish with his 40 year old father or a grandfather looking to purchase his first boat after retiring.
-Either way there must be a large disposable income in order to afford leisure products.
-There is nothing in Bass Pro that can be considered a necessity and therefore the exclusive products that Bass Pro sell can be charged at a premium.
-The atmospherics of the store are very industrialized.
-Inside of the store has a very open concept and is full of wooden structures.
-Once walking into the store you can tell that the store is based on dollar per square foot and is structured to get the most out of the floor and wall space.
-The signage is consistent throughout the store and follows the same cabin like feel that you notice once viewing the exterior of the store.
-Bass Pro’s price points range from mid to high.
-They have regular branded products priced averagely and the higher quality products are priced higher.
-A customer can expect to find the same good for many different price points ranging from mid to high.
-Our recommendations for Bass Pro Stores are to expand their locations throughout Canada in parts that are specifically geared towards fishing, boating etc. The US stores are so profitable pulling in 1.9 million a year approximately per store. If Bass Pro opened a few more stores in Canada, possibly around 4 or 5 they would still stay brand exclusive but would increase Bass Pro’s profit.
-Another recommendation would be to increase the amount of exclusive brands they carry. Since one of their large exclusive lines “American Rod and Gun” was so successful if they were to increase their brand exclusivity to more products they could also increase their profit because they would be able to manufacture and set their own price points. They have brand loyal customers therefore if they were to introduce more exclusive products not only will their customers buy them but now these products would only be available at Bass Pro Shops making it even more of a destination retailer.
Consistency and Execution
Bass Pro Shops is an international chain with the predominate amount of their stores located in the United States. With nearly 50 stores, all of which are over 50 000 sq. ft. it is a huge retailer with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales per annum.
With such a large retailer, one would assume that the stores would be a cookie-cutter design to make the design and construction process as streamlined as possible. This is not the case at Bass Pro Shops where each store has several distinctive and differentiating factors. This said the general atmosphere remains the same however the couple unique factors gives consumers a reason to visit different locations. Where one would never travel extra distance just to see a Wal-Mart, one will drive extra distance to examine the uniqueness of each Bass Pro Shops.
This is a very successful move on Bass Pro Shops’ end. They realize that their primary competitors are local Ma-and-Pa Bait and Tackle shops that are all uniquely different. In order to create the feeling of this being “my” Bass Pro Shop, these differentiating factors are a success.
The specific differences usually come down to two areas: design and merchandise.
Design. The main difference apparent to consumers will be certain design elements in each store. These include unique water displays, entrances, show displays, etc. Merely adding a unique water display to a store can add a totally unique and captivating feeling that differentiates the store from others in the chain. While items such as the flooring, signage, and colours remain the same, this water feature unique to just one store gives it a successful differentiated look.
Merchandise. Bass Pro Shops are also very smart in making small changes to merchandise components that cater to the local markets. For example, at the only Canadian location they are sure to stock ice fishing huts to cater to the climate; the stores in Florida do not stock these items. Not only does this further the ‘uniqueness’ of each store, but also positively affects the bottom line by maximizing sales per square foot.
At store level, all components of design are executed very well. As mentioned above, each store is slightly unique yet features some underlying designs principles chain-wide. We will focus on three core areas of execution of these store designs:
At first glance a Bass Pro Shop store is very segmented. A typical store must sell everything from bait to boats and thus segments the store so that each zone does not intrude on another. For example, to promote experiential retailing, a fake gun range is located in the hunting gun department. This area is particularly rustic featuring a lot of trees and brush to cater specifically to the hunters. This said, the tackle section is located in an actual cottage – this succeeds in separating the two and leads consumers to truly put themselves in the situation that each section represents.
With such segmentation, the store takes on a distinctly unique feel; a very intimate and homey feeling. This does present the problem of lack of cohesion of the entire store. This said, due to a very high ceiling and unified paint colours on the wall, the store does successfully flow and can be perceived as being one unified place with separate segments. As discussed in Layout of Store, pathways and signage aid significantly in unifying the store.
Uniformity of Displays
All displays within Bass Pro Shops coincide perfectly with the overall ambiance of the store. The displays are not too ornate in that they detract from the rustic appeal, while remaining structured enough to look professional.
These are very uniformed throughout the store. It is clear that strict plannograms are followed.
It is also clear that Bass Pro Shops are strategically attempting to maximize sales per square feet. One can see that there is a lot of merchandise on the floor with little stored in the back. This is a tell-tale sign that they have strict sales-per-square-feet targets to meet and are working hard to do so. With this said, a lot of inventory might be present however the displays are arranged so that it does not appear cluttered or messy. This is maintained through-out the store.
Layout of Store
The layout of all stores is maximized through clear paths outlined on the floor. Bass Pro Shops are very segmented and can be very easy to get lost in. These ‘pathways’ on the floor help to give direction to a customer’s visits and ensures that they seen as much of the store as possible.
Upon entering the store you are naturally drawn to the right. Pathways guide you to the left, right, and center however most consumers turn right. This leads you to the large item section including boats and tents. This is done as the least amount of consumers are there buy such a large ticket item, thus it makes you keep walking until you reach items such as tackle or fishing rods. This makes you see more of the store and increases the possibility of you buying more.
This strategy is also found in grocery store where such essentials as milk and eggs – loss leaders – are placed at the back of the store so that consumers have to walk through more expensive items to reach them.
One can also see very good signage located in the store. Bass Pro Shops utilize the industry standard “100-10-1” signage rule. These are the three tiers of signs: one that can be seen from 100 feet away and denoting a section, a second tier that can be seen from 10 feet away denoting an aisle, and one from 1 feet away denoting the product. This is a very structured signage hierarchy and is showcased well in Bass Pro Shops across North America.
POS systems are Point Of Sale computer systems which enable customers to buy items from stores. IBM is a major manufacturer and distributor of these POS systems and Bass Pro Shops has bought all new IBM systems for their stores. IBM is collaborating with a company called PCMS, which specializes in Java based flexible programs. Even thought Bass Pro Shops exhibit themselves as a very woodsy big foot store, they must use new modern technology for their unseen systems. The only visible part of these modern systems is at the checkout counters. These don’t necessarily add to the brand image in which Bass Pro is trying to convey, but they enable it to complete very important business processes.
The flooring in Bass Pro is made out of high durability wood, acid stained concrete, and carpet. Directly when you enter the Bass Pro Shop, you walk on what feels like expensive antique wood. In fact it is recycled Oak planks from demolished buildings. Bass Pro has worked alongside with Pioneer Millworks to reuse old wood which would otherwise get thrown in the garbage. The main aisle running directly through the store; splitting the water sport vs. the land sports is a matte, acidic stained concrete. This is a normal concrete mix which has been coloured using a chemical reaction. Once the concrete has been stained, multiple layers of concrete sealant act as a barrier which protects against heavy pedestrian traffic.
Merchandise Display System Technology
Bass Pro uses a simple, cottage-like design with efficient usage of space for merchandise. Most of their shelving units are styled to look like antique furniture. The actual surface which merchandise (mostly clothing) is sitting on is a slippery matte vinyl or glass. These surfaces enable customers to quickly take products off the shelves without any hassle. The shelving units themselves are always presented in a manner which emphasizes Bass Pros image.
These are designed like the shelving units, simple and cottage-like. The bins have to be sturdy enough to be able to hold a few hundred pounds of merchandise. Most of these bins are located in the center of the middle aisle which runs down the center of the store. They are used to display high margin impulse buys, such as tuques, or socks; necessity items. To spice up the appeal of the average boring bin, Bass Pro has covered the legs with hay; presenting a fall ambiance. In the winter, obviously faux snow will be covering the legs, and other seasons will have other seasonal objects for coverings. Also, Bass Pro has taken the average boring bin and transformed it into a small canoe. This old wooden canoe represents their theme perfectly, and makes the bins both practical and showy.
This is where Bass Pro shifts away from its constant image and moves into a perfectly efficient display of small merchandise. Hanging racks are mainly used for small fishing lures, or smaller hunting tools. There is nothing thematic about the fishing lure section in Bass Pro, other than the Fishing desk. This idea is that the people who shop in this section are there for the product, and know what they need. These customers do not want frilly nonsense in their way of getting what they need. The racking used to hang fishing lures is basically a peg board with metal hooks which can be placed anywhere along the board. This enables employees to change the layout of the merchandise without having problems of merchandise size and shape getting in the way.
Bass Pro counters are used for locking up expensive or potentially dangerous items. Bass Pro is able to lock these items up without making the customer feel as if they are unable to interact with the product. The display cases are made with a shatter-proof glass which can withstand blunt blows and not break apart into pieces. The glass acts as a barrier between thieves and merchandise, since no one is able to simply break through the glass. These cases have viewing glass on both the top and the side, to make it possible for the customer to take a detailed look at items without having to touch them. Of course if permitted, merchandise can be taken out by unlocking a sliding glass door on the employee side of the display counter. Bass pro have given the counters, and surrounding fixtures a veneer of detailed wood carvings, and related superfluous glitter which add to the total customer experience.
Scene Creation Technology
All Bass Pro Shops feature a colossal sized aquarium which holds, in this case a few species of fresh water fish. The aquarium is viewable on two sides and is a favourite area for children. The aquarium is approximately 19,000 gallons; all that water is held in by two massive inward curved glass panes. The glass is intentionally curved to be able to hold the weight and pressure of the 19,000 gallons (72,000 Litres) of water. The aquarium has been finished with faux rock which looks perfectly realistic. This makes the aquarium look as if it was a real lake; under the water.
The waterfall in the Bass Pro runs from the aquarium, above customer’s heads, and into a running river which leads into what looks like a mini cave. The store primarily relies on the force of gravity and the acceleration of the waterfall to make it over customer’s heads as they walk into the store. The water actually gets circulated back into the aquarium once is runs through an aerator and a filter. Like any aquarium, the water needs to be properly aerated to enable fish to survive.
The theme of Bass Pro does not end at eye level, it extends all the way up to the ceiling as well. The ceiling features fish, sharks, canoes, and most importantly a full-sized airplane. The airplane has got to weigh a hefty sum; therefore it has to be held up by some hefty rigging. Bass Pro has lifted this airplane up with thick gauge wiring, and is strung to large support beams which span the width of the vaulted ceiling. The plane is mounted in such a way which makes it feel like it is actually flying.
Bass Pro uses a large selection of both lighting fixtures and colours in its stores. Among these types of lighting fixtures are; track lights, spotlights, florescent lights, sectional themed chandeliers, lamps and lanterns. Each of these types of lighting uses different colours and levels of brightness to create different effects in the environment and with the customers.
Track lights are used over a number of areas throughout the store to achieve different affects, including in the main area, over large ticket sales items, and over the main display when entering the store from the mall entrance. The first place that track lights are located is in the large ticket item sales floors such as the boating department. This section is lit by black track lighting which uses bright white lights to create a natural looking light on the products. This type of lighting allows the customer to see the boat in a light that is close to the natural light that they would see it in outside at their cottage or on the lake. This encourages customers to look at the product as it is brightly lit but not blinding. The track lighting in this section is high enough on the ceiling that it allows the customer to look at the boats up close without creating a glare that will distract the customer. This effect of high white lights is also used in the hunters clothing section where avid hunters need to be able to see what their suits would roughly look like outside before purchasing them. The track lights are also present in the main walk of the store, and are used to light the main walk from one entrance to the other and keep the main aisle lit without being very bright. The brightness of the lights used in this section is subdued, as this section creates the initial impression of the store and the less bright lighting allows the customer to experience the cozy cottage atmosphere and environment right away. The same strategy is used to light the main entrance from the mall which is an outdoor display containing taxidermy animals and mannequin campers on a mountainside, a fish tank (representing a lake in the display), and a waterfall. The use of non-bright track lights allows for a late afternoon or early evening-look on this display.
Bass Pro uses spot lights in a variety of places throughout the store to accent certain sections or objects and also to create the desired environment. First of all, spotlights are used heavily in the clothing departments of the store highlight the clothing hung on the wall and attract the customers’ eye to specific clothes on the wall. The spotlights are hung from the shelf above the item and pointed directly at it. The lights used in the wall spotlights are less bright than those used elsewhere as they are simply used to accent merchandise. Bass Pro also uses spotlights in their in-house brand specialty sections such as Uncle Buck’s Pantry and the Home Décor sections. The spotlights in these sections are strategically placed, utilizing a more yellow-tinted light to create a cozy cottage feel. This is especially useful for those customers who own or rent cottages and are coming into the store to prepare for a weekend or time away. Spotlights are also used to accent the guns and hunting bows in the hunting sections. They are lit from above using a slightly blue-tinted light to add to the eye-catching ability of the display.
Florescent lights are used to light the remainder of the store. The height of the ceiling allows the store to use white light to create, as previously noted, a natural looking light to allow the customer to see and shop but not be blinded. The sectional signage hung from the ceiling is placed strategically between two of these lights this allows the sign to be lit by the regular set of lights thereby having enough lighting that the customers can have a clear view of it from the other side of the store while ensuring there is no glare from the sign as there are no specially placed lights shining right at it. With the height of the ceiling and the brightness used in these lights, there is no glare created anywhere in the store which allows the customers to shop around in an environment and enjoy the experience; differentiating it from shopping in a typical store.
Sectional themed chandeliers
Spread throughout the store there are several sectional themed chandeliers. These are integrated into the design of the store for just that, design purposes. Each main section of the store has one which is especially themed to that section. In the boating and fishing department, the chandelier is blue and white with waves around the sides and a bass on the bottom. In the hunting section the sides are trees and animals and on the bottom there is a deer, however on top of the light there are silhouettes of trees and hunters. When you walk into the store through the main entrance there are three more of these lights slightly larger in size than the others, representing the three remaining seasons, spring, fall and winter. These are evenly spaced throughout the main walk for effect.
Lamps and lanterns
Lanterns and lamps are used throughout the store to accent different aspects of the store design. Lamps in the home décor section are turned on so customers can see them with the rest of the merchandise and gain a better visual of how they flow with the objects around them. Lanterns are also used in various areas of the store to accent the store design and merchandise, most noticeably at the cash area. Instead of using simple light up signs, or numbers to indicate the active cash lines, at Bass Pro active tills are indicated by a hanging lit lantern at the end of the aisle. These lanterns are literally something that you can purchase in the store in their camping section, which adds to the overall design and brand image of the store as the customer leaves.
Red fluorescents are used in one aspect of store design only. They are used to differentiate the ‘in-store pro shops’ from the regular customer shopping aisles. All of the signs of the pro shops in the store have distinct red fluorescent tube lights in their signage. This allows the customers to easily identify the areas where they can go to get specialty help or just to learn more about the section in which they are interested. The use of red provides high contrast to the remainder of the store design, so that customers can easily locate each of these sections.
Bass Pro uses an extensive amount of lighting and lighting types. Each type of lighting is used strategically throughout the store to add to the environment, and to achieve a desired effect and impact the customer. The variety and types create an environment and atmosphere friendly to both first time customers and to returning customers alike. This creates an experience for the customer that they will not find at other outdoor or camping stores. This ‘experience’ is more likely to increase customer buys as well as return customers, therefore there are no recommendations for change.
All information was taken from primary research done in-store. All ideas are original.