December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

L.L. Bean counts on fewer clicks

Even the Web bows to some traditions. So it’s no surprise that L.L. Bean skipped digital pyrotechnics and stuck with Down East simplicity in relaunching its 2-year-old Internet store. Customers wanted streamlined shopping, and the retailer delivered: 30% fewer clicks now separate browse from buy.

Shoppers who want to scan major categories now see thumbnails of each product. With the old design, they could call up an image only after scrolling through text. Bean also revved up its search engine, allowing customers to get specifics more quickly. And Catalog Quickshop offers fast ordering of all 16,000 catalog items.

But some observers still see room for improvement. “I found it slow to download,” says George Whalin, CEO of Retail Management Consultants in San Marcos, Calif. “If others have the same experience, that’s a mistake.”

Coming in January is live online help, a feature aimed at reducing abandoned carts. The redesign may help, too. A week after its debut, Web sales rose “substantially,” says Shawn Gorman, e-commerce marketing manager. How much he wouldn’t say, but he offered a description that speaks volumes in taciturn New England: “Just incredible.”

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