Lands’ End’s Strategic Advantage
We’ve all heard them, the Lands’ End “legends of customer service”—things like free fabric swatches, complimentary tailoring on dress pants, custom-made chinos and extended phone conversations with friendly call center reps.
Indeed, its laser-like focus on customer satisfaction is one reason the company garnered a 93-percent net income increase in the last fiscal year. Undoubtedly it’s also one of the reasons why retail giant Sears in May announced plans to acquire 55 percent of Lands’ End’s stock for an estimated $1.9 billion.
“[T]his company ... is well-known for high-quality products produced according to rigorous manufacturing standards,” stated Sears CEO Alan Lacy in a May 13 Webcast. “Customers recognize the value Lands’ End products represent.”
Such esteem comes from the mouths of friends and competitors alike.
When Chris McCormick, president of L.L. Bean, recently was asked which competitor he most admires, he didn’t hesitate to name Lands’ End. “They’re good marketers and their creative is doing a fine job. They execute perfectly. We’re learning a lot from them,” he said.
A peek inside Lands’ End reveals an operation that is dedicated to implementing the motto of company co-founder Gary Comer: “Take care of the people, take care of the customers, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Needling the Threads
Superior service begins with superior merchandise. “There’s not a button that goes on a pair of pants, or a thread on a skirt that isn’t tested by our quality assurance lab,” says Karen Centner, Lands’ End’s vice president and general merchandise manager of e-commerce and international.
The company’s quality-assurance machines test tensile strength and tear resistance, colorfastness, shrinkage, abrasion resistance, flammability and more. If a product doesn’t meet the company’s tough quality or measurement standards, it’s removed from the shipment and re-routed to a Lands’ End outlet or returned to the vendor.