June 01, 2014

Lands' End and Omnichannel: 2001 to 2013

One of the best things about publicly traded companies is that they have to tell you how much merchandise they sell, and they have to tell you how much profit they generate.

Lands' End was a publicly traded brand in 2001, before selling to Sears. Now that Lands' End has been spun off as a publicly traded company, we can compare the business pre-Sears and post-Sears.

The era between 2001 and 2013 coincides with the start of what was called "multi-channel", and the evolution into what it is now known as "omni-channel". Both concepts are essentially the same ... a frictionless customer experience via online, mobile, stores, and catalogs, coupled with a full digitization of the in-store retail experience. The promise of both is the same ... customers will spend a fortune if you digitize the business.

How did migration from cataloger to multi-channel brand to omnichannel apparel favorite play out for Lands' End? Let's take a look (click here for the 2001 annual report and click here for the 2013 annual report). 
  • Direct-Channel Annual Net Sales, 2001 = $1,462,000,000.
  • Direct-Channel Annual Net Sales, 2013 = $1,303,862,000 (sales are less than 12 years ago).
  • Retail-Channel Net Sales, 2013 = $258,922,000.
  • Total Net Sales, 2013 = $1,562,876,000.
  • Approximate Market Value, Pre-Sale = $2,000,000,000.
  • Approximate Market Value, Today = less than $1,000,000,000.
In twelve years, Lands' End (in total, retail + direct) grew by 0.6%, on an annual basis, with half the value of the company destroyed during a time when inflation grew by about 30%.

#Omnichannel!!!

You know what? You can make a strong case that omnichannel tactics ruin businesses.

A series of questions for you to consider on a Monday morning:
  1. If online marketing is so powerful, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  2. If retargeting is so powerful, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  3. If email marketing is so powerful, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  4. If social media is so powerful, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  5. If mobile is so powerful, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  6. If cart abandonment programs are so powerful, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  7. If catalog/online integration is so critically important, and Lands' End integrated the catalog with their online business, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  8. If the co-ops are the key to customer acquisition success, and customer acquisition excellence leads to a loyal and productive database, then why didn't Lands' End grow?
  9. Discounts and promotions are a "must", and are so powerful as we're told daily, and Lands' End never participated in them prior to the acquisition but has re-defined the brand around them in recent years. Given that thesis, why didn't Lands' End grow?
  10. Retail, what the management consultants call "bricks 'n clicks" is considered to be so very powerful, but Lands' End moved into retail and didn't grow. Why didn't Lands' End grow?
  11. If catalogs were so critical to success, then why didn't Lands' End grow but Amazon exploded (without catalogs)?
  12. If you think Sears is to blame, then why did Coldwater Creek fold, why did Gap post a -30% comp in-stores over the past decade, why did JCP crumble for years before imploding, and why did Eddie Bauer go through bankruptcy twice? Did Sears cause those problems as well?
  13. If you can buy Lands' End merchandise online and pick it up and/or return it in-store, which is what today's highly sophisticated omnichannel customer demands (as we're told), then why didn't Lands' End grow after employing the very strategies that we're told we have to employ in order to grow?
  14. If only 44% of Lands' End customers are age 35-54, then roughly half of Lands' End customers must be age 55+. Why didn't Lands' End grow during a timeframe when it continued to use a catalog to follow customers age 55+ toward retirement?
Write down your answer to each question.

Now, take a look at the answers to your questions, all of them. 

What do the answers tell you about what might be important to Lands' End? What do your answers tell you about what might be important to your business?