March 11, 2002, 12:00 AM

Lands’ End may extend custom fit to shirts and swimwear

Customer feedback on Lands’ End Custom products fine-tunes pattern-cutting and paves the way for more custom offerings online. Next up: shirts, women`s swimsuits.

 

Five months after launching Lands’ End Custom on its web site, Lands’ End already has made three sweeping changes to the software model that generates customer-specific patterns for the chino pants shoppers are ordering online, says project manager Ron James. In addition to those major changes, customer feedback also has driven minor adjustments to pattern directions for specific dimensions on specific sizes, such as lengthening or shortening inseams, for example. The rate of return on the custom pants was initially higher than expected – about equal to returns on standard chinos – but adjusting the model already has dropped the rate of return, adds James. Lands’ End did not disclose actual numbers.

The ongoing adjustment to refine the model was part of the plan when Lands’ End partnered with technology company Archetype to develop the custom application for Lands’ End’s web site, James says. “This is a living, breathing database,” he says. “The more sales results and survey results we get, the more we can fine-tune the model.” Lands’ End has rewarded custom pants buyers who have completed an online survey about the fit with an online gift certificate for $25 in merchandise. The original calculations that drove pattern cutting were based on a test panel of 1,500 who tried the custom pants; now, Lands’ End is batching the additional customer data and feeding it into the system every two weeks to refine the model, says James.

Lands’ End has so far released no numbers on its investment on Lands’ End custom, its ROI to date, or the number of shoppers who’ve ordered the custom pants. A Lands’ End spokeswoman says the tool has brought in shoppers new to LandsEend.com, though she wouldn’t say how many. The best read so far on whether Lands’ End views its venture into mass customization as successful may be its plans to launch custom jeans on the site this summer, likely to be followed by custom tailored pants, shirts, and possibly even women’s swimwear in the future.

 

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