Gearing Up for the Holiday Rush (1,954 words)
So how does Collin Street continue to live up to the high standard it set back in 1896? McNutt says, "Ultimately, we attribute our success to the people behind the automation."
The Online Model
Lands' End, a leader in the direct selling industry, successfully implemented online sales on both the front- and back-end during holiday 1999. Launched in 1995 with 100 products, www.landsend.com now features every product found in its catalogs. Its server is equipped to handle huge traffic volumes—if you're counting, that's 15 million site visits in fiscal year 1999.
How do they do it? According to Lands' End director of e-commerce Sam Taylor, the specific challenges of retailing during a rush time aren't terribly different for a brick-and-mortar company once it gets online. He sites three areas of concentration: 1) the product itself; 2) human resources; and 3) the Web site.
1. Product. Lands' End begins making its merchandising decisions over a year in advance for the holiday season. The company's customer retention and wealth of database information affords it the confidence to choose products that will be popular, he says.
Taylor emphasizes that the product selection on the Web site is identical to the array of goods found in the company's catalog; he says this "total overlap" is an important part of strong brand identity.
2. People. Lands' End reports it typically does 40 percent of its business during the fourth quarter, but this isn't without a hugely increased need for space and employees.
Taylor says, come March, the company is already hiring for its call center needs for the next holiday. During the holiday rush, the number of calls received by Lands' End reps jumps from around 40,000 a day to more than 100,000 on the busiest days.
An additional 2,500 people are also needed to fill customer service, distribution and packing positions, Taylor says.