Lands' End Explains Its Multichannel Might

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PHILADELPHIA -- Not every retailer can sell more than 90 percent of its products at regular price, but that's what Lands' End does, according to president/CEO Mindy Meads.


Lands' End's strict adherence to product quality, value and the customer lets it offer pricing consistent with value, the top executive at the Sears-owned apparel cataloger and online retailer told delegates yesterday at the eTail 2005 e-commerce conference here.


"Take care of your customer, take care of your employee and the rest will take care of itself," Meads said, quoting Lands' End founder Gary Comer.


Three strategies helped Lands' End become a successful multichannel retailer, she told a packed room of the nation's leading e-commerce executives and suppliers. First, stay focused on core values. Next, exceed customer expectations. Finally, build a high-performance team.


Take the team. First, hire people with skills not found in the company. Train, but "go slow to go fast." Then, build integrity and trust among peers and employees. Collaborate at all levels to promote positive teamwork.


"Collaboration does not always mean consensus and not everyone having a vote," Meads said.


Finally, she advised the audience to celebrate triumph. Encourage people to grow from their experience.


Meads' take on core values was worth noting. Lands' End offers an unconditional return policy, round-the-clock shopping and customer service and features like My Virtual Model, My Virtual Room and Lands' End Live for live online customer service.


Customer service is a priority, since its proper execution generates brand loyalty. Meads illustrated this by recalling when a longtime shopper called Lands' End to wake her up on her wedding day.


Lands' End continues to research its audience, relying on demographics, psychographics and customer shopping habits data.


"Technology continues to change the way we shop," she said. "We have to understand how consumers will behave in the future."


The majority of U.S. households now have broadband Internet access at home, which is a major boost to e-commerce. For Lands' End, online shoppers remain slightly younger than its catalog base.


"We do generate new customers on the Internet," she said.


Moreover, return rates online for Lands' End are no different than for catalog orders.


The catalog, in fact, is critical to Lands' End's success in e-commerce. Meads cited a recent study showing that customers who get catalogs generate a 15 percent increase in transactions and a 16 percent jump in overall spend.


Lands' End aims for seamless integration within all three channels -- e-commerce, catalog and Sears stores -- along with consistent messaging from site imagery to call center reps. Recent restructuring at Lands' End has ensured that the e-commerce teams are integrated within their respective business units for brand consistency. Still, e-commerce is given its due.


"At Lands' End, we believe our site is not a fancy cash register," Meads said.


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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