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Cabela’s Deploys NEC Displays to Engage Customers & Employees

Cabela’s, based in Sidney, Nebraska, is the world’s largest direct marketer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandize.  As a leading specialty retailer, the company also has grown into one of the most well-known outdoor recreation brands.

In keeping with its tradition of high quality products and customer service, the company strategized on how to build stronger relationships with customers while empowering employees, also known as “outfitters,” to deliver superior customer service and to realize their crucial roles in the success of the company.
Cabela’s faced a challenge of uniformly communicating with customers and employees across its more than 50 physical locations – retail stores, distribution centers and corporate buildings. The company wanted to elevate its brand relative to competitors and make the entire customer experience immersive.  While this was a desirable goal, company officials recognized the need to do it in a way that would not deter from its brand attributes of celebrating nature and the outdoors.
“We wanted to differentiate ourselves from competitors while adding meaningful content on video signage that complements our store, products and lifestyle,” said Gary Putman, IT Senior Manager of Operations at Cabela’s World Headquarters.
Prior to its current implementation of digital signage, the company used televisions and DVD players to communicate with its constituents – customers and employees.
The company faced the challenge of replacing DVD players, and some TVs, every six months.  Content on the DVDs, be it product information or outdoors entertainment for its patrons, also had to be changed out manually to deliver the ambiance the retailer sought.  The company lacked an effective way of controlling or updating content.
The Solution Company officials were aware of NEC Display Solutions and its reputation for innovation and quality. Cabela’s conducted a pilot test in 2010 with a single NEC video wall in its Grand Junction, CO, store.  The 46” NEC X462UN ultra narrow display was selected for its near-seamless video wall aesthetic and professional grade panel that withstands the rigors of 24×7 usage. The X462UN also provided Cabela’s with brightness uniformity, minimal power consumption and mercury-free components.“We wanted displays that have long life in order to support our business goals while being economically feasible,” Putman said.
From that single pilot, the company decided to standardize on NEC displays across all its locations. Approximately 25-28 NEC displays can be found in 14 Cabela’s stores to date with additional deployments scheduled for every new store. The pace has been quick, as an NEC product is added to a store every three weeks, Putman said.
Cabela’s strategy for customer facing digital signage includes entertainment content, product information and interactivity. A mix of 2×2 and 3×3 NEC video walls leveraging four 46” NEC X462UN, X463UN and nine 55” NEC X551UN displays offer immersive entertainment experiences for patrons in such hobbies as kayaking, hunting, fishing and hiking as well as activities particular to that store geography.
Aisle end-caps, comprised of 22” NEC AS221WM displays, offer product information for that area of the store, while touch-integrated 32” NEC V321 displays give visitors an interactive experience with informative content about sports, recreational activities and nature.  During a recent store promotion, for example, customers could learn about animals native to certain habitats, and even hear what they sounded like.  Through the NEC digital signage, customers are able to learn more about the products right for them, an effort Cabela’s is making to deepen its relationships with customers.
Cabela’s has deployed two 46” NEC P462 displays in employee break-rooms at all 45 of its stores and three distribution centers as of early 2013. These are used to convey employee and benefits information, news about upcoming products and to celebrate special events.  The displays also enable video teleconferencing sessions with headquarters and other stores.
In the smaller Cabela’s outpost stores, 65” NEC V651 displays are used for wayfinding to help visitors navigate the facility.  All in all, there are a total of 28 NEC displays at each Cabela’s outpost store.
Calculating return on investment can be a tough exercise, according to Putman. “However, the biggest bang for our NEC digital signage buck to date has been customer experience.  Whether we’re talking about NEC video walls, end-caps or the interactive displays, customers acknowledge the ‘wow factor’ and are realizing vivid experiences with nature, be it through wildlife, camping, hunting, fishing or boating, to name a few.  A combination of the Cabela’s in-store experience plus what the digital screens can convey is an exciting proposition for visitors.”
Among the greatest benefits of the implementation is the assurance that NEC’s reliable displays are playing in stores.  IT and content providers can focus on pushing and updating compelling content.  The right content playing at the right store locations is paramount to Cabela’s success.  “For those NEC displays deployed, we haven’t had to replace a single one since we started in 2010,” said Putman.
“The nice thing about NEC displays is that we can manage them remotely,” said Putman. “We love the commercial-grade panels and the near-seamless bezels.  NEC provides great support and has been resourceful in delivering solutions specific to our needs as an outfitter.  Whether we want to hang a screen from a pole, meld a display with a habitat, or wrap a video wall in wood, NEC has established itself as a worthy partner – one that has good relations with its 3rd party vendors.  It’s been able to meet all of our unique requirements and talk our language.”
As the digital signage installations continue, Cabela’s indicated plans to utilize the option slots on NEC displays for media players in an upcoming stage of the rollout.
“All new locations will include NEC products, and as older stores come up for remodeling, they too will be outfitted with NEC displays,” said Putman. “If there is a display in a Cabela’s store, then it’s going to be NEC.”

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