Lands’ End won smartphone-wielding shoppers during pandemic lockdowns. Now it’s investing further in the customer experience, says Constanze Freienstein, managing director, Europe
As a brand, Lands’ End is all about being comfortable. The retailer, founded in 1963 as a yachting supplies business, has over the years become an all American clothing brand, selling styles that customers buy when they want to spend time outdoors or on leisure pursuits. That meant it was well placed when shoppers moved online during the pandemic to buy just the sort of clothing that it sells.
Recent first quarter figures show that in the three months to April 30, global ecommerce revenues grew by 44.4% to $260m (£188m) from $180m (£130m) a year earlier. Overall net revenues, including from stores in the US and Europe, grew by 48% to £321.3m (£232.19m), and are also up by 22% on the first pre-pandemic quarter of 2019. Customer numbers were 27% ahead, with new customers 71% up on last time. At the same time, net income of $2.6m (£1.9m)was well up from a net loss of $20.6m (£15m) in the first quarter of 2020 – and a net loss of $6.8m (£4.9m) in the first quarter of 2019.
Looking ahead, the casual clothing retailer now expects its net revenues for the year to grow to between $1.61bn (£1.16bn) and $1.65bn (£1.19bn), and net income to grow to between $27.5m (£19.9m) to $34m (£24.6m).
Constanze Freienstein, managing director, Europe of Lands’ End, says the retailer was well placed when the shift online took place across its business.
“Lands End is an ecommerce company, a digitally-driven company and the majority of our sales are online,” she says. “So, we have great emphasis on customer experience, UX and providing a distinctive and relevant experience on our webshop. For our customers, this is where now we deliver the greatest value for our customers, and that also drove our business results.”
The trend towards digitalisation was accelerated during Covid, says Freienstein, as shoppers opted to buy in particular via mobile. “We’ve seen a rapid digitalisation in our customer as much as our company itself took that rapid digitisation step into being fully digital in our processes and adopting very fast and new systems. So did our customer. So what happened [during Covid] is our online share rocketed. And within that, mobile is by far the strongest growth channel. Mobile is, in all fairness, the key driver for our growth.”
Lands’ End sells online, via wholesale and through more than 30 shops in the US and two outlet shops in Europe. Looking ahead, it’s now targeting marketplaces, starting this month with Zalando. “We consider this a great collaboration and a wonderful partnership for us to reach so many more great customers that will love our brand,” said Freienstein.
The retailer is also focusing on improving the customer experience on its core platform through methods including machine learning/AI. “This is mainly through leveraging global initiatives into Europe and really benefiting from a lot of testing, learning, and then rolling out what works well in the US,” says Freienstein. “That’s the benefit of being a regional organisation versus the global headquarter. We have a lot a lot of initiatives from backend efficiency to payment, and alternative payment options that we will roll out for the customer’s benefit.” She adds: “We will continue to add value-adding services such as mix and matching recommendation services, picking up on moments in the customer journey just to send that additional message to to continue to engage the customer.”
Find out more about Lands’ End in a longer version of this interview that will feature in the upcoming RetailX Top1000 Europe report.