December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Inspector Gadget of Fashion P.D. sets the pace for putting new tools to work that make shopping neat. Whether visitors are trying swimsuits on scanned images of themselves or learning what business casual means, like a department store saleswoman, the site is ready to ring up the order.

Lands’ End has spent the year growing its gadgetry. The site offers such tools as the ability to shop with a friend, live help and a swimsuit finder. Shoppers can use a three-dimensional model or create one in their own likeness (by answering a series of questions on body shape, hair color and length, and facial shape) to try on outfits. The virtual model is also a marketing tool; in order to save the model, shoppers must submit demographic information.

A recent addition to the Lands’ End toy box is My Virtual Model in which shoppers go to a mobile scanning unit to have their exact body shape converted into a virtual model. The process takes 10 minutes (12 seconds for the scanning) to log 200,000 body points. The plan for 2001 is to integrate all these gadgets to allow the shopper to, say, use the virtual models while shopping with friends.

All this gadgetry is apparently not intimidating shoppers. The company reports online sales were $138 million for fiscal year 2000; up from $61 million in 1999; web sales account for 10.5% of all Lands’ End sales. But some of those shopping devices were criticized in the Gomez Advisors Inc. fall scorecard. Gomez said the site comes up short because once the user clicks the “shop with a friend” and “art of business casual” links it is hard for them to find their way back to the home page. Gomez also said checkout was lengthy and there is no wish list or gift registry feature. However, the site ranked third overall on the scorecard and ranked in the top four of all but two categories.

Dodgeville, Wisc.

Monthly visitors: 38 million,
FY 2000

Sales: $138 million
FY 2000

Went live: July 1995

Design by: In-house

OS: Unix

E-C Software: In-house

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