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Winter 2000: Lands' End Site Makes Online Shopping Easy

Lands' End, the Dodgeville, WI-based company best known for its colorful catalogues (259 million shipped in 1998), has quickly become a formidable retail presence online. The company's Web site ( was launched July 17, 1995, initially as an experiment to see if customers would purchase apparel online.

Only 100 products were offered back then - chinos, turtlenecks, and a small sampling of men's dress shirts. After 30 days, Lands' End had sold a whopping $160 worth of merchandise, yet company executives were thrilled - they knew there was a nascent market just waiting to be tapped.

Fast forward to the end of 1998. Lands' End sales for the publicly held company in Fiscal Year 1998 were $1.371 billion (Catalog Age ranks Lands' End as the 12th largest mail order company and second largest for apparel only). Sales for more than tripled over the past 12 months, from $18 million to $61 million.

According to Terry Nelson, Lands' End Internet marketing manager, the secret to the company's phenomenal online growth is simple - make Internet shopping easy for the customer.

To achieve these objectives, Lands' End has rolled out a number of interactive shopping tools over the past 18 months that have helped boost traffic - 14 million visitors logged on to the site between January and July of 1999 (peak times are Mondays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Standard Time).

The newest interactive feature, the Lands' End Affiliate Network, was unveiled the end of October. Lands' End provides banners that are used to link visitors from Affiliate Network participants to the Lands' End site. Participants earn five percent of every sale that occurs on a click-through from their site. There is one standardized set of creative banners, buttons and text links provided to any participating company worldwide. Participants include,, and (Lands' End declined to provide the total number of Affiliate Network participants).

"Customers can get to them easily plus we keep the content fresh," Nelson said. "The banners are also designed to take you to a variety of areas on the Lands' End site."

Nelson added that three types of Affiliate Network participants are targeted - fund raising, family and travel sites (there are currently no Lands' End banner ads on any search engine or directory).

Other interactive programs that have helped increase online sales include:

  • Shop with a Friend - This connects friends online anywhere in the world and allows them to shop on the Lands' End site together. Once they log on and enter a password, the two shoppers can browse on the site and even view the same pages simultaneously.

  • Lands' End Live - Allows shoppers to get immediate customer service support either by phone or text-based chat. Shoppers can inquire about shipping information, how to care for products, how products are made, where to find products on the site, and more.

  • Your Personal Model™ - Utilizes streaming 3D technology (no plug-ins required) and allows women to build a virtual model of themselves online. Viewers fill out a questionnaire that enables them to precisely define the shape of their shoulders, hips, waist, bust, hairstyle, hair color, skin tone and face shape. Once the profile is created (and you can even remain anonymous) you can try on numerous Lands' End outfits with a single click. This feature has quickly become one of the most popular areas of the Web site.

  • Oxford Express™ - Enables customers to sift through hundreds of fabrics, styles, collars and sizes in seconds in order to find that ideal men's dress shirt.

Lands' End's long-term Internet objective is to evolve into a truly global site. The company spent $20 million in 1999 promoting the site in print and on cable television. Two 15-second TV ads debuted last April that featured Your Personal Model and Oxford Express.

"Our TV strategy represents a concentrated effort to reach the target customer," Nelson said. "As many as several hundred commercials are airing each week on selected cable networks such as CNN and CNN Headline News that reach Lands' End's customer demographic: a highly educated consumer in a dual income family, aged 35-54." Last year Lands' End launched native language sites in Japan and Germany. There is also a site geared towards United Kingdom consumers.

"We're introducing our brand to a broad range of customers," Nelson said. "Our customers still shop directly with us, but now they can do it via the Web. Like our logo says, it's our direct way of doing business."

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