Sunday, December 10, 2006

LL Bean: Doing It Right

I'm not going to lie. I'm an LL Bean fan. I like the way they operate. They know who they are, they don't try to be anybody else, and they're completely customer-oriented.

Case in point:
On Saturday I stopped by the LL Bean near me to pick up some gifts. Yes, it was a packed house, what with Christmas rapidly approaching. However, the overall atmosphere there was mellow and comfortable, not chaotic and overwhelming like a Macy's or Kohl's can be. Here are some things that impressed me:
  • Music: For a spell while I was there they had a three piece ensemble playing Christmas melodies. This made for a cozy shopping experience. (Editor's Note: I wanted to be like Ace Ventura and yank the violinist's arm in mid-stroke just for fun, but my conscience got the best of me!)
  • Selection: I am a vertically endowed fellow. I typically like shopping at LL Bean because if I see something I like I can have it ordered in a tall size with no shipping charge if they don't have it in stock in the store. This time around I found a good number of items stocked in tall size. The only other stores that carry tall sizes that I like are J. Crew and Eddie Bauer, but they never have the tall sizes in stock. So suffice it to say, this was a pleasant surprise, and I even got myself a present since I liked the way a particular fleece pullover looked and fit on me.
  • Efficiency: Though I had to wait in line to checkout, there were at least five cashiers up and running, and a separate table was set up for gift boxes, so the line moved pretty smoothly.
  • Thoughtfulness: When I checked out I was given a $10 gift card for spending more than $50. I had no idea this was coming and it was a real nice touch; it was certainly not announced in any extravagent way, just a very subtle "thank you" before leaving. That's class.
All of these things put together made for an excellent shopping experience. Though some may not believe it, these are indeed marketing victories through and through.

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