Creating a Local Web Presence
Lands’ End has launched six international e-commerce sites within a period of 12 months. “We view international as a growth opportunity for Lands’ End,” says Sam Taylor, the company’s vice president of international. He explains the cataloger’s goal is to create a global brand.
The company’s new approach is to expand internationally via the Internet. It chose Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom—the three largest e-commerce markets outside the United States—as the first trio of launches. These also happened to be the three international markets in which the cataloger already had a print catalog and the infrastructure to support a Web site. An e-commerce site merely added another medium to its mix.
One fly in the ointment was Japan. The cataloger started its international expansion with the Japanese site first and found double-byte characters and an unfamiliar language made for a rough
introduction to overseas cyberspace. Comparatively, the others were easy.
After adding an Internet presence to its existing overseas locations, Lands’ End then used the Web as a springboard to new markets. Because Europe is a hot growth spot for e-commerce, the cataloger wanted to expand its business by creating a local presence with Web sites in two of the continent’s largest markets, France and Italy.
However, it needed a smaller market to test its first e-commerce-only venture. Ireland was chosen. By launching in an English-speaking country first, the cataloger could easily tie in the site’s back-end fulfillment with its pan-European distribution center in the United Kingdom. What’s more, its English-speaking programmers in Dodgeville, WI, could test the site.
Once it worked out the bugs in the Irish site, it was able to clone the site and adapt it for the French and Italian markets.
A Central Location
While in-country designers write product copy, all sites are hosted and maintained from a central location in the Dodgeville headquarters. This allows Lands’ End to leverage its information systems investments and makes the operations scalable.