A True Multichannel Experience
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Catalog Success: The Corner View. Coming to you directly from the keyboard of Catalog Success editor in chief Paul Miller, this fortnightly e-newsletter will reach your inbox every other Friday.
In all of our channels — the monthly print magazine, the weekly Idea Factory e-newsletter and our daily Web site — Catalog Success’ mantra is to provide you with moneymaking ideas that can help you run your catalog/multichannel business better. Always on the lookout for new products that we can offer our readers, we bring you this executive report with analysis and reflections on the catalog/multichannel business, specifically targeted at high-level executives. Each edition will focus on specific events, issues or other matters of interest to you, our readers, and how they may affect you.
For my first report, I thought I’d share a true multichannel experience with you. Not just any multichannel experience, but one that truly brought together catalog, retail and Web all at once.
In mid-December, my wife dragged me to the Danbury (Connecticut) Fair Mall located near my home in Westchester County, N.Y., to do some holiday shopping. She brought her Lands’ End catalog along with her, because she wanted to comb through the Sears store to see if it had some of the Lands’ End items. This way, she wouldn’t have to wait for them to be shipped.
A brief backgrounder on Sears-Lands’ End: Sears acquired Lands’ End in 2002. From that day on, people questioned how the two could co-exist. Within a few months after the acquisition, Sears began offering a limited number of Lands’ End products in its stores. I often cringed when I went into Sears stores, because there seemed to be no rhyme or reason for where it basically dumped the Lands’ End items. One area could have a selection of Lands’ End polo shirts, the next could have some low-end, polyester-laden Sears proprietary brand of shirts.
More recently, however, Sears has done at least a little better job displaying Lands’ End products. It appears that the ultimate goal is to have little Lands’ End boutiques within Sears stores, which I believe would make the most sense of all. Still, the Sears/Lands’ End marriage remains an odd pairing and continues to look like a work in progress. A little more than two years ago, Kmart bought Sears. So these days, you can find some Lands’ End items in Kmart stores (now, that’s a little scary).
Of All Places
But back to my Sears visit. Considering the somewhat oddball marriage between Sears and Lands’ End, it’s a little ironic that I had a complete multichannel experience (“revelation?”) in the Danbury Sears store in December. My wife and I looked high and low in Sears’ Lands’ End area for the right size of a pair of walking shoes from the Lands’ End catalog that we thought would be ideal for my mother. We had a clerk check the stock room, but Mom’s size wasn’t available in that store.
A store clerk, who had a computer terminal at her disposal that was preset to the Lands’ End Web site, said she could order the shoes on the site and they’d be shipped directly from Lands’ End in a few days to us at no extra charge.
So there it was, in Sears of all places, the happy marriage of all three channels: My wife and I inside the Sears store, showing the clerk the shoes in the catalog, and the clerk ordering the right size pair for us online. Oh, and the shoes arrived in three business days, even though we were told it would take upwards of a week. Not bad. For at least one moment, Sears seemed to get both the marriage of multichannel — and Lands’ End — just right.
Oh and Mom loved the shoes.