Company Overview - L. L. Bean was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean of Greenwood - First product: The Bean Boot – handmade by Bean in his brother's basement in Freeport. 90% of the initial batch sold were returned broken – this is where Bean's money-back guarantee comes from. - Specializes in: - Outdoor equipment (canoes, tents, camping gear, etc) - Outerwear and Indoor Apparel - Footwear - Luggage and Bags
Company Overview - Major Competitors include: - Land's End - Eddie Bauer - Cabela's - Bass Pro Shops - Primary Target Customers include: - Avid Outdoorsmen / Outdoorswomen. - Typically between the ages of 35 and 54. - No plans to target the younger “urban” segment. - Sales Channels: - Online - Retail Stores (36 worldwide) - Catalog Sales
Company Overview - Placement within their market: - Number 9 sporting goods retailer in the U. S. behind Wal-Mart, Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Foot Locker, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, and Academy Sports. - 259th largest privately owned company in 2005. - 73rd largest mail-order house company. - Ranked number 8 in the best apparel, fashion, textile, and department store companies for gay and lesbian employees.
Challenges - Competitive environment becoming much more complicated. - Consumer tastes are beginning to change. - Evolution of the Internet, e-marketing, and e-commerce. - Growing popularity of retail stores and retail shopping. - The drop of the Japanese economy and the decreasing value of the Yen. - L.L. Bean, in the 1980s and 1990s, had become very popular in Japan. Japan was doing well at the time and it's people were buying from Bean's left and right, that is, until their economy started to shift.
Initial Response - L. L. Bean quickly jumped on the web bandwagon and created a website. - The site was created and launched in late 1995. - It featured little more than product descriptions and pictures. - Told viewers that they had to call in an order for a product and that they could not order online. - Gained criticism from critics and competitors, who had also launched websites and offered e-commerce to their customers, as well as other features like clothing size comparison, etc. - Bean's knew something had to give. They had gotten in too soon, and their methods quickly became obsolete.
Fixin' Up - In response to their initial attempts to create a website (and failing), L. L. Bean decided to totally re-vamp the online experience. - They developed a more feature-rich site including many different things such as company background information, outdoor tips, and a national park directory. - The website also featured a service that would allow customers to create a custom address book of family and friends, and a sort of "wish list" feature that would allow the customers to compile different items into a virtual shopping list. - Of course, they also teamed up with IBM to create an e-commerce selling platform (called Net.Commerce) to offer online sales to their customers for the holiday season of 1996.
Fixin' Up "L.L. Bean's commitment to customers is the cornerstone of our heritage. In presenting secure on-line ordering, we seek to offer customers a convenient way to shop, and to assure them they will receive the same friendly and knowledgeable service they have come to expect from our catalog customer service representatives and the sales staff at our retail store." - Chris McCormick
Fixin' Up - Other improvements that Bean's decided to implement: - Designing of new product lines such as Freeport Studio. - Store remodeling (Freeport). - New manufacturing equipment. - New specialty catalogs. - Opening more retail stores (across the U.S. and eventually Japan). - Partnering with Unica (the company that acquired MarketSoft Corp) and implementing their Affinium software suite.
Nowadays - Now, one can do just about anything on the L.L. Bean website as it pertains to their products: - Monogramming - Embroidered Logos - Special Gift Wrapping and Boxing - Special Gift Ideas for the Holidays - Etc. - Bean's now has a Japanese-language website! - http://www.llbean.co.jp
Measuring Success - In 2006, online sales from llbean.com surpassed that of catalog sales! - Online sales in 2006 were 10% higher than those of the previous year, and in the previous year (2005) online sales had grown by twenty-eight percent! - In 2006, the site has 73 million visits, which was 13% more than those of the previous year. - Bean's sales have been on the steady increase since the implementation of the website, especially the “new and improved” website.
Evaluating Response - Understanding customer needs and behaviors: Bean was beginning to understand the trend – people's tastes were just changing. Trends come and go, as always. Also, e-commerce was making it's move around the time in question, and the popularity of retail was beginning to rise. They began contemplating a website and the opening of more retail stores, as well as strengthening their relationship with their Japanese customers, a big source of sales. They wanted to find other avenues of marketing, as well, and started to watch what their other competitors were doing. - Formulating a Strategy to Fulfill Needs: Bean figured they would start off slow. They didn't want to just “jump in” to the web and invest a whole lot of money into something that might not come back profitable. They figured they'd start off with just a small description site and see how that worked out first. They were also thinking about other e-marketing methods like e-mail marketing. However, when they began thinking of going retail, their thought process was different. They decided to try and aggressively open up new stores.
Evaluating Response - Implement Effectively and Efficiently: - They first got the site up and running towards the end of 1995, with not many bells and whistles. - They also started doing e-mail marketing, again, being slow and basic. After obtaining profits from their website and email marketing, they invested this money into the growth of these departments. - Now they have a full-featured website and one of the best emailmarketing programs available. - While they may have missed out on a few opportunities by not having a full featured site up from the get-go, they did effectively manage their risk and probably saved money by taking it slow - Then, they beefed up the site and introduced e-commerce using IBM's Net.Commerce platform. - However, coming to their retail store end, Bean's attempted to open three large stores in two years, which did not prove to be successful. - After a while, however, they got the hang of it and now have a total of 36 stores. - Formulating a Strategy to Fulfill Needs: At this point in time, Bean didn't have to try and build a trusting relationship with their existing customers – they've had one in place since 1912! Even if somebody has never done business with L. L. Bean, as long as they know who they are, they know what type of reputation Bean has. For the people that didn't know, all it takes is one visit to the website or one browse in the catalog to see that Bean's just isn't your average company. One order from them and you'll have a customer hooked.
Conclusion - L. L. Bean was (and still is) a company that knows what it's like to be able to grow. - When times started changing, Bean's at least knew that they had to change/modify some things. - While their first attempts may not have been so great, they learned from their mistakes and figured out how to climb out of the hole they'd dug. - Their first website wasn't too great, but less than a year later, after seeing the response, they jumped on creating a full-featured site to draw in more revenues. - Their first attempt at opening retail stores (other than Freeport) wasn't too great either, but eventually they got the hang of it, and now have 36 stores worldwide (27 in the U.S. And 9 in Japan)
Photos Courtesy of the Following Sites: - http://22.214.171.124/Christmas99/christmas99.html - http://www.trinidadbirding.com/trips/2005_Maine/maine.html - http://www.willallen.com/wla4_1YearOld.html - http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/IIZjBuJwgd4NZupII4Zkdg - http://www.royalsboroughinn.com/llbean.htm - http://philadelphia.about.com/cs/southjersey/l/aa_ll_bean.htm - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Freeport_llbean.jpg - http://www.beans-around-the-world.com/llbean.html - http://www.labelscar.com/category/maine/ - http://www.kendalltavern.com/specials.html