A Closer Look: Bert Moser, Flagship Store Manager in Stuttgart

Bert Moser is in charge of the biggest JW Flagship Store worldwide. In his Stuttgart store, the avid outdoorsman is one of the few to offer the complete Jack Wolfskin range. We talked to Bert about the art of customer service, changes in customer expectations, and the perfect pair of pants.

store jack wolfskin

How did you become involved with Jack Wolfskin?

I love mountain sports, and I have always had an affinity for the brand. In 2004, I went hiking around the Lake Constance region with a good friend from Karlsruhe. At the time, I was equipped with Jack Wolfskin products and was absolutely convinced by their quality. In 2005, I took a student job with the company as a temporary assistant in Karlsruhe because, for one thing, my workplace was close to the university. Secondly, Jack Wolfskin has always been committed to sustainability issues. The company has never been about “fast fashion” but always offered customers high-quality products. Personally, I am not someone who enjoys going shopping. When I need a pair of pants, I go into a store specifically to buy pants. And then I am happy not to have to go shopping again for as long as possible. What could be more natural than to choose Jack Wolfskin? The idea of being able to wear timeless clothes until they fall apart was an essential argument for a career at Jack Wolfskin. In 2015, Jack Wolfskin began to build its own resale structure and took over many stores from franchisees. Thus, I came straight into the company, became a store manager in Karlsruhe, and then, after two and a half years, found my way to a new challenge, becoming manager of the Flagship Store in Stuttgart.

store stuttgart jack wolfskin

What is unique about the Stuttgart Flagship Store?

This store has been an exception since it opened in 2006. Due to space considerations, every “normal store” has to make a selection from the Jack Wolfskin product range to sell. In Karlsruhe, for instance, our retail space is 130 square meters. So, of course, it is difficult to display our tents and large backpacks adequately. Therefore, the managers of smaller stores have decided to reduce their assortment to items like daypacks, shoes, and clothing. But the store in Stuttgart has a retail space of 750 square meters. It is twice the size of our next largest store worldwide. From the very beginning, the idea was to display everything here. After all, Jack Wolfskin is one of the very few outdoor suppliers that offers an entire range of products – from clothing to backpacks, shoes, tents, sleeping bags, and thermal mats. In Stuttgart, we can provide the customer with full 360-degree support.

flagship store stuttgart

Why is Stuttgart, of all places, the right location?

Stuttgart enjoys an excellent geographical location. We have a fast highway connection to the Alps. And the store is still based in southern Germany within reasonable proximity to our company headquarters in Idstein. We had to choose a somewhat larger city.

Which item do you sell the most?

In terms of unit sales, it would probably be the fleece hat, as it appeals to all customer target groups – men, women, and children. Everyone wears them, not only for hiking but every day. I believe that the most popular article over the past 15 years has been the Blizzard fleece jacket. It is exceptionally robust and one of Jack Wolfskin’s signature products.

And what is your favorite product?

The Activate hiking pants. They’re even suitable for everyday use, as they look like regular black pants from a distance, but are more elastic than any stretch jeans and are also wind resistant. I travel a lot by train, since I live in Karlsruhe, but work in Stuttgart. This means that I spend time in drafty train stations every day, where you notice the difference in other pants right away. Wearing a pair of jeans, you’ll get cold quickly, but not in Activate pants. In addition, these pants have a considerable temperature spectrum. I wear them all year through – even as shorts in summer when the temperatures are over 20 degrees. For the past 15 years, these pants have been my absolute favorite Jack Wolfskin product.

stuttgart bernd moser jw

What is the best thing about your job?

The opportunity to help other people. A good salesperson will help the customer organize their vacation experience. People come into the store and pretty much tell us their plans in detail. We, in turn, are regarded as service providers. Here’s a perfect example: A young man wanted to go on a mountain hiking trip to the Zugspitze with his friends for his bachelor’s party. He came into the store and asked me what he needed for the trip. Of course, I could have sold him any old gear, but I knew that if I recommended the wrong items, his trip would not be the memorable experience that he would look back on fondly later. Instead, it would be a trip to hell – like when the hiking shoes don’t fit and the backpack pinches or doesn’t sit right the whole time. If, in such moments, a salesperson helps the customer choose the right products and perhaps even offers some tips, that customer might show up again four weeks later, offering a hearty handshake in gratitude. These kinds of experiences put a smile on my face every day at work. Last year, before the first lockdown, a customer came into the store and told us he was planning a bike tour across Europe. He said he was already fully equipped but still needed to buy a tent. I advised him on the purchase and, a few months later, we received a letter all the way from Poland with a picture of him, his bike, the tent, and a huge thank you.

It sounds like a fulfilling job. Yet, it seems like there is a severe shortage of retail sales staff, especially since the pandemic.

There is currently a sign hanging in every second store: Employees wanted.

Why do you think it is so challenging to find salespeople right now?

Many colleagues are leaving the retail sector because the industry suffered greatly due to the lengthy store closures during the Corona pandemic. Many retailers have closed their doors permanently. You can see a significant vacancy rate in all medium-sized cities. People are searching for crisis-proof jobs. And the demands on sales personnel are now much greater than even just ten years ago. Back then, customers came into the store and knew what they wanted. Sales staff just had to recommend an item, and that was that. It was more about making a purchase than selling something. The demands placed on sales personnel have changed significantly over time. 

You would think it would be just the opposite, as nowadays consumers inform themselves about products on the Internet before they even come to the store.

Those who research products on the Internet are those who also purchase online. People who come into the store today expect comprehensive and honest product recommendations. They want to feel that their exchange with the sales personnel helped them reach a purchase decision.

bernd moser sledge

What do you believe has led to this change in customer expectations?

I suspect it has to do with the massive increase in the range of products. If you are looking for a fleece pullover nowadays, you can find any number of vendors. The range of products on offer has since increased almost exponentially, and customers have correspondingly become uncertain and intimidated. What is the difference between a fleece pullover for 9.95 euros and 60.95 euros? Those prepared to pay more money for better quality want to be confident that they are making the right choice when making their purchase.

And if you are lucky, you will have Bert Moser and his team to advise you.