Steve Fuller

The last 20 months at L.L. Bean have confirmed one over-arching principle: Progress can be painful. Faced with stagnant sales, too much inventory and stale creative, Chris McCormick, CEO of L.L. Bean, had to make some difficult and unpopular decisions if he wanted to whip the company into fighting shape for the 21st century. He instituted numerous reorganizational initiatives that included eliminating 32 catalogs from the mail plan and 2,300 unproductive catalog pages. The staff cut 25 percent of its SKUs. Its vendor list was chopped in half after the company renegotiated nearly all major contracts, including printing, paper, e-mail fulfillment and data

If you're not sure where your customers fall on a scale of "cheap" to "chic," design your pages more toward "chic." And remember to work with your marketing department; the staffers there spend hours compiling customer profiles. —Steve Fuller, VP of corporate marketing, L.L. Bean

Good people are better than more people. Your best resources should do your highest-priority work, and they're most able to indentify the lowest-returning tasks. —Steve Fuller, VP of corporate marketing, L.L. Bean

The current economy is challenging, but it also presents opportunities. Take this time to look at vendor consolidations, contract renegotiation, and media rates on advertising and e-marketing. —Steve Fuller, VP of corporate marketing, L.L. Bean

Relying solely on your best buyers is a short-term solution at best. It causes buyer fatigue, it skews product pricing, and it drives unproductive SKU growth. —Steve Fuller, VP of corporate marketing, L.L. Bean

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