Should L.L.Bean ditch its legendary return policy?
Looking for ways to cut costs, L.L.Bean may overhaul its generous return policy and eliminate year-round free shipping.
The retailer last week told employees it is offering voluntary early retirements with a goal of cutting about 500 jobs. Following a trend at many Fortune 500 companies, L.L.Bean is also freezing its pension program. At the same time, it is boosting contributions to employees’ individual 401(k) plans, expanding parental leave benefits and offering more flexible work hours.
The changes, which go into effect in 2018, were being explored before Steve Smith was hired as CEO early last year. Mr. Smith told The Associated Press, “As long as your expenses are growing faster than your sales, then you’re not able to invest in growth. What we’re focused on is getting to where we’re back in growth mode.”
Company officials also indicated that they are reviewing other aspects of the company, including shipping and return policies and plan to offer more details later this year.
The famed “100 percent satisfaction guarantee,” in place since the company was founded just over 100 years ago, basically allows customers to return any products, no matter how old, for a full refund.
“Fraudulent returns have been a problem and we are definitely reviewing our policies, but we have made no decisions,” L.L.Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem told the Boston Globe. “We will always stand behind our products.”
L.L.Bean has been offering year-round free shipping since 2011, a time when Zappos was the only other major retailer offering the perk. Since then, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bonobos and few others have introduced year-round free shipping. Other major retailers in recent years have lowered minimum purchase levels to qualify for free shipping. Best Buy and Target last year offered free shipping during the holiday season.
- Free Shipping to The U.S. And Canada Every Day – L.L.Bean
- 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed – L.L.Bean
- L.L.Bean looks to cut costs, debates free shipping, return policy – The Associated Press/Chicago Tribune
- L.L.Bean offers employee buyouts, ends contributions to company pension plan – Bangor Daily News
- Have you ever returned L.L.Bean merchandise years after you bought it? Now’s the time to clear your conscience. – Boston Globe
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is L.L.Bean’s legendary return policy to its overall success? What adjustments, if any, would you make to the retailer’s shipping and/or return policies?