Gearing Up for the Holiday Rush (1,954 words)
Where can you find the means for seasonal increases in manpower? A strategic partnership may be the answer. College students and people involved with other seasonal work can be a great resource. Lands' End takes advantage of local resources by partnering with cheese factories in the area, which end their busy season in October, when the retailer begins its busiest time of the year.
3. The Web site. "We pride ourselves on being online pioneers," Taylor says, and by adding an exciting new feature to the site each year, the company manages to stay ahead of the game.
Server capacity and site performance are major issues during an online rush, Taylor says. The Keynote Group ranked LandsEnd.com as one of the top sites leading up to last year's holiday season. Most important for Web applications, Taylor says, is a seamless integration: "All operations are joined at the hip. Once it gets to the back-end it's all the same."
Fulfillment: The Big Challenge
As online retailers (and shoppers) are well aware, even established direct marketers hit some serious snags when it came to fulfillment and customer service on the Web during the 1999 holiday season. According to a study by Andersen Consulting, the number one gripe 1999 holiday online shoppers had was "product was out of stock."
Lands' End's promise to take and fulfill orders by Christmas day up until 10 p.m. on December 23—and its ability to make good on the promise—begs the question: How did they do it? In a season when the e-commerce newbies were painfully finding their legs, how did this direct merchant succeed?
Taylor says that it is the company's unique partnership with UPS that allows it to keep its grand fulfillment promises. With a main UPS mail drop center located directly at Lands' End's distribution center in Dodgeville, packages come off the five miles of fully-automated conveyor belts ready for pick-up.