L.L. Bean’s future will be built with bricks and clicks

Discussion
Mar 12, 2015

Although I’ve been a customer of L.L. Bean going back several decades, I’ve never visited one of the company’s outlets or retail stores. My first purchase, a pair of duck boots, was made from one of the company’s catalogs. In recent years, I’ve gone online to get what I needed on Bean’s website. But the family-owned company thinks it can drive more business by opening stores, so one of these days I’ll take a trip to see if the L.L. Bean experience is as great in-person as it is online and in print.

Bean, which currently operates 26 stores, plans to add four more locations this year and will continue adding new ones until it gets up to "at least 100" over the next five years, according to a memo written by the company’s president and CEO Chris McCormick.

The planned store expansion is part of Bean’s omnichannel strategy, according to company spokesperson Mac McKeever. "Folks who may only know us from the catalogs and Internet get to see us in 3-D," he told the Bangor Daily News.

Store locations, according to Mr. McKeever, will serve as purchase pick-up points for shoppers and also as the site of L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery schools. The family-owned company posted an increase in revenues of seven percent last year.

Will opening new stores have a positive or negative effect on L.L. Bean’s brand image? What will the effect of new stores have on the company’s revenues and profits?

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9 Comments on "L.L. Bean’s future will be built with bricks and clicks"


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Ben Ball
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

I have only visited the original Freeport store. The one where the old man used to answer the door at 3 A.M. to provision trappers and voyageurs headed north who didn’t want to slow down. If they can even come close to replicating the atmosphere and customer experience of that store in their retail units, then I agree with the family. Like the best of the Cabela and BassPro stores, they will become destinations that grow surrounding retail communities.

Joan Treistman
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

I hope that the new L.L. Bean stores will have a positive impact on the company’s image and revenue. It will bring me personal comfort to know that in-person customer service and satisfaction can still influence sales. The prospect of enjoying L.L. Bean in person will motivate shoppers to go there. Shoppers who first get to know L.L. Bean in person will check out their online presence—and buy. The curious online customers will want to touch and feel and experience L.L. Bean in person. It’s the “vicious” cycle turned “virtuous” and profitable. Even the author of the article, George Anderson, says “so one of these days I’ll take a trip to see if the L.L. Bean experience is as great in-person as it is online and in print.” I’ll be there as well. I want to believe and buy!

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

Allowing customers to experience L.L. Bean in 3-D makes sense. The stores reflect and reinforce L.L. Bean’s core story. They should drive increased revenue for the company, especially with the expansion moving forward at a slow, steady pace.

Kevin Graff
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

Here we go, another online-only retailer sees the light and opens a good old-fashioned store!
If they can execute the complete store experience well, this is a bit of a no-brainer. While online is convenient, it lacks any emotional experience that is so essential to the brand experience.

Anne Howe
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

MY favorite part of the future success of L.L. Bean retail experiences is this line:

“Store locations, according to Mr. McKeever, will serve as purchase pick-up points for shoppers and also as the site of L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery schools.”

Discovery schools. Now that’s a retail concept shoppers will really enjoy! Wishing L.L. Bean much success and also hoping for a location in Charlotte!

Gene Detroyer
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

The key to this strategy is that L.L. Bean doesn’t lose site of why they are opening the stores. Discovery schools, an L.L. Bean showcase and pick up is what these stores have to stay focused on. They can not revert to a brick-and-mortar silo model. One visit to one of these stores can open L.L. Bean to multiple sales online, and let’s face it, that is what L.L. Bean has been good at since its inception. That is, they have relied on an intimate connection with their loyal customers understanding you don’t need a store to do it.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

My initial reaction: SALES TAX. I see that they already have stores (who knew it was plural?, so that won’t be an entirely new issue, but it will still be a 6 or 8 or n percent add on for residents of many states. And becoming widely available in stores doesn’t always help…just ask Lands’ End. (Of course L.L. Bean isn’t involving Sears in this.)

Anyway, as others have noted, if the stores can become destinations—think Bass Pro Shops or Cabelas—then it will help, but if they just open a bunch of stores like everyone else’s stores, then they will become just another store.

Ed King
Guest
Ed King
7 years 2 months ago

Shoppers are giving us a gift by visiting our stores. What a great opportunity to deepen the emotional connection by surrounding them with the L.L. Bean brand and all it stands for. Financially, it sounds as if they are looking at this in the right way—the long-term play.

Arie Shpanya
Guest
7 years 2 months ago

I think giving customers more chances to experience products in person is a great idea. This is especially helpful because the stores will act as pick up points for online orders—decreasing wait time for online shoppers and giving associates the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell. I think this can only have a positive impact on L.L. Bean’s image, revenue, and profit.

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