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.
For instance, the launch of the Italian site cost less than one-tenth the cost to launch its U.K. site a year earlier because the architecture was already in place. Says Taylor, “The beauty of the Internet is that it allows you to expand, and do it cost-efficiently.”
Web Doesn’t Cannibalize Print
An e-commerce launch in the French and Italian markets doesn’t rule out the possibility of a print catalog being added to Lands’ End’s future media mix. Because France is considered a good market for catalogers, Lands’ End currently is collecting the names and mailing addresses of its French Web customers and, if it finds it has enough volume, may launch a French print catalog.
While Lands’ End seems to have jumped on the World Wide Web bandwagon, it has no plans for significant changes in its print catalog mailing strategies. It currently mails eight catalogs a year in Germany and 11 in the United Kingdom. Taylor says the cataloger has learned, through testing in the United States, that many of its customers place orders via multiple channels and that its multi-channel customers are its best customers because they spend more and shop more frequently.
It also considers its print catalog to be its number-one marketing tool; daily ‘Net sales spike a day or two after its monthly print catalog mailing.