November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Specialty/Apparel and Accessories: An ensemble of approaches

(Page 4 of 4)

Ferry can breathe a sigh a relief, at least for now, because Lands’ End, which appears on Internet Retailer’s Best of the Web for the fourth year in a row, a distinction it shares only with Amazon, hasn’t let up with its innovative, service-oriented ways. In November, for instance, five months after coming under Sears’s umbrella, Lands’ End took another step ahead of its competitors by expanding its custom-fitting apparel service to include dress shirts and tailored twill pants. “In a simple process that takes just a few minutes, customers choose the features they want, input some key measurements, answer a few questions and then confirm the order,” says Bill Bass, Lands’ End senior vice president for e-commerce and international.

He adds that the custom shirts are made with Lands’ End features such as several collar styles, bowling-ball-material buttons, long tails, a 7-button front and extra room in the shoulders. The Tailored Twills feature dressier-than-usual belt loops and taped pocket seams for a smoother touch. “Going forward, the most important innovation for us will be custom clothes,” Bass says.

And no wonder. Available only online, the custom-fitting service has proven a vital means of acquiring customers. Among the service’s users, 25% are new customers, the company says.

Lands’ End is raising the bar of online apparel selling, and it shows no sign of letting up. And with the ability to leverage Sears’s supply chain for sourcing products, it should strengthen its hand in retailing, analysts say. “As long as Sears recognizes that and allows Lands’ End to do its own thing, it will continue doing the most for the customer,” KSA’s Merritt says.

LandsEnd.com

Date
August 1995
Unique Visitors
737,629/mo.*
Sales
$300 million (last FY)
Design By
N/A
Site Search
EasyAsk Inc.
CRM
Accrue Software, Unica Corp.
Affiliate Management
N/A
Fulfillment
Page Digital Inc.
Order Management
Page Digital Inc.
Returns Liquidation
N/A
Web Analytics
comScore Networks Inc.
Payment Processor
I4 Commerce Inc.’s Bill Me Later, Page Digital Inc.’s Synaro
Content Management
N/A
E-mail Management
N/A
*As reported by comScore Networks Inc.

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Undergear
Back to the basics

Knowing your market is key to retail success. Nowhere is that better demonstrated than at Undergear.com. Sales at the men’s underwear and workout apparel site will grow 15%-20% this year, on top of 30% growth last year. “We have seen phenomenal growth every year and we have no expectations it will flatten next year,” says Steve Seymour, president of Undergear and International Male, two brands of Hanover Direct Inc.

Undergear, which has had a web site since 1996, already gets half of its sales from the web. That high proportion is partly the result of having a base of customers who are prime Internet users. The typical Undergear customer is a 25- to 45-year-old man, with average to slightly above average income, who likes to shop for apparel. “We have a good understanding of what our customers like to see in graphics and presentation,” Seymour says.

The high proportion of web sales is also the result of a strong brand. The Undergear catalog has been in existence for 20 years and half of the volume of the web site is sparked by the catalog.

Further testimony to the power of the site and the brand is that over 50% of web sales are to repeat customers. Undergear also drives customers to the site through e-mail marketing, including newsletters, as well as by an affiliate network. Search accounts for only about 10% of sales.

Part of the appeal of Under-gear.com is its clean design. Shoppers are presented on the home page with Underwear, Workout and Casual options, further broken down by subcategories. All the information fits in a single screen with no scrolling. Clicking an option takes the shopper directly to quick loading shopping pages with thumbnails of products. “It’s a very sparse site, which is good for the image they are trying to project,” says Duif Calvin, a San Francisco-based retail analyst. Calvin says Undergear’s image is in direct contrast to sister brand International Male, which is about fashion. “The Undergear audience is about sports and fitness and the site is making a statement about being a non-fashion site,” she says. “The Undergear concept is an interesting way of taking a successful category at International Male and spinning it off for a different audience.”

For the coming year, Undergear plans a broader range of products in more fabrics and styles. It also plans to expand its Advantage Club loyalty program and establish web-based marketing partnerships with other Hanover Direct brands. After the past couple years, Seymour says he won’t be surprised by further growth next year. “I don’t know how high it can go,” he says. “If you had told me three years ago we would have 50% of our sales on the Internet today, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Undergear.com

Date
1996
Unique Visitors
150,000/mo.
Design By
in-house
Site Search
Microsoft Commerce Server
CRM
Microsoft Commerce Server
Affiliate Management
LinkShare Corp.
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
Coremetrics Inc.
Payment Processor
Paymentech L.P.
Content Management
Microsoft Commerce Server
E-mail Management
DoubleClick Inc.’s Unity Mai

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