App makers discover content and customers at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

If Outdoor Retailer is about linking sellers to buyers, what do you gain if you’re an app-maker who gives away electrons to anyone who can click a mouse? That’s the question O.R.D. posed to app developers at the show.

Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

If Outdoor Retailer is about linking sellers to buyers, what do you gain if you’re an app-maker who gives away electrons to anyone who can click a mouse? That’s the question SNEWS posed to app developers at the show.

“We’ve been coming to OR for over a decade, and it’s always worthwhile being here,” said Mark Saferstein, publisher and editor-in-chief at American Park Finder the developer of the Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder app. “It’s inevitable you’ll meet someone here you wouldn’t have met, or connect with someone you can help — or who can help you.” But Saferstein isn’t talking about customers; he’s referring to content providers.

Designed for both iOS and Android devices, the free Oh Ranger! app connects users to APN’s database of thousands of national, state and local parks, all searchable by activities like hiking, caving or fishing. While Saferstein’s staff creates and updates the database, they rely on users to augment the information with local tips and information. “We can tell you where the park is,” Safersteain said. “But someone who actually lives there can do a better job explaining which trail is best for which hiker.” One of those local experts, the head of a group that supports Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, visited Saferstein’s booth Saturday morning to talk about collaboration. “We’re going to see if we can put their information in our database,” said Saferstein. So, while American Park Finder doesn’t buy or sell at OR, it makes connections that improve its free app.

Unlike APN, ViewRanger actively is seeking customers on the show floor. The UK-based company has a seven-year track record of providing digital maps around the world. In January 2012, it released its first app for both iOS and Android platforms. While anyone can download its app, Viewranger’s business model is focused on retail shops. “We provide retailers with high-quality maps to augment with their own local trail and destination info,” said Ian Pound, chief marketing officer. “We also allow them to brand their content with a store logo or product links.”

ViewRanger adviser Margie Cohen explained how it works. “As a former retail store owner, the No. 1 question I got wasn’t, ‘Is this jacket waterproof?’ It was, ‘Where can I go hiking?’” Instead of handing customers a paper with 20 local hiking trails, as Cohen did in her Atlanta-based store, retailers linked with ViewRanger can show shoppers how to download the app to access trail details, maps and gear information. All of the content can be customized and branded by the retailer. As an example, Cohen said that one of the customers stopping by the ViewRanger booth included a Wisconsin retail store looking to improve the local destination information on its website. She also said the app is ideal for hiking clubs, nonprofits and other organizations that want to share and store trail data. ViewRanger offers two map layers — USGS contour and shaded terrain — and allows users to save data for off-line hiking. The app comes in a free basic version and a premium version with higher-quality maps that sells for $14.99.

--Jason Stevenson