Interview with Edgar Huber

Edgar Huber
Edgar Huber
President and CEO
Lands' End Inc.
Lands' End Inc.

Personalization is key to online customer engagement.
Edgar Huber, President and CEO of Lands' End Inc., talks about the importance of customer satisfaction and quality of products for the success of apparel business, in an exclusive interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Ilin Mathew. Synopsis: Lands’ End Inc. is one of the leading international retailers of clothing and accessories based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Incorporated in 1963 and publicly traded for 15 years, Lands’ End, Inc. became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co. on June 17, 2002. Huber is responsible for domestic and international operations of the company and is in-charge of fostering the company’s culture to provide customers around the world with the quality, value and service. With more than 20 years’ experience working with international brands, Huber is a proven brand builder, merchant and retail leader. Huber holds a Masters of Business Administration from Wirtschafts University in Vienna, Austria and a Bachelor of Arts from the Business Academy in Innsbruck, Austria. In addition, he completed the International Management Program at HEC (Haute Etudes Commerciales) in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Excerpts:

First of all, congratulations for 50 years of Lands’ End’s success in apparel industry. A lot has changed in apparel world in the last 50 years. Is there anything that is still the same at Land’s End?

Thank you. We are proud to be celebrating 50 years as an authentic American retailer and I am grateful to be a part of such an honest brand with true values and a sincere respect for the customers. As a company, we are constantly evolving and adapting to make sure we are selling innovative apparel and goods that are relevant for today’s customer. That being said, there are many aspects of the company and brand that remain unchanged such as our values and the way we do business. Lands’ End’s founder, Gary Comer, built this brand around high-quality products and top-notch customer service. He believed that if the customer is happy, then everything else will fall into place - which is why we are still successful fifty years later. Lands’ End prides itself on the quality of its products and sincere respect and appreciation for the customer, which are aspects of the brand that will never change, no matter how old we are.

The company got its start as a mail-order operation in Chicago in 1963 and it gained fame because of its unconditional guarantee along with high level of customer service. What do you think is the role of consumer satisfaction and quality of products for the success of any apparel brand?

I believe that in order to be successful in any industry, the customer needs to feel respected and appreciated. Customers want to know that they are getting the best quality products at the best price. Lands’ End’s unconditional guarantee policy, “Guaranteed. Period.”, is our way of showing the customer that we are not only confident in the quality of our products, but also genuinely care if they are satisfied with their purchase. Which is why they can return any item at any time, no questions asked.

Besides customer satisfaction and quality of products, which other factors affect the apparel retail business in today’s environment?

Personalization is very important to today’s consumer - the ability to shop in the way that works best for them, whether it’s online, via mobile or in-store is something consumers have come to expect. As the digital world continues to expand, there are more ways for retailers to target consumers using the messaging form of communication and product information that is tailored to each consumer’s specific wants and needs.

How important is personalization in online shopping and is it possible to give information that is tailored to each customer’s specific needs?

One thing we continue to explore is how to customize our online shopping experience. Personalization is key to online customer engagement. We recently began utilizing a new merchandizing tool that aggregates search results on our website in a more thoughtful and productive way, allowing us to better engage with our customers and help them navigate the site more seamlessly. We have also applied this same thinking to our email marketing, and are taking a more segmented and targeted approach to reach our customers. For example, several years ago, we would have been mailing five different email versions a day. Today, we send over 1,000 different versions each day.

Coming to bricks and mortar vs. e-commerce apparel retailing, how do you foresee bricks and mortar stores competing with e-commerce and other digital marketing platforms?

There will always be a customer demand for offline stores as well as e-commerce and other digital shopping platforms. Consumers like to have the option to shop the way that works best for them. I believe that in order to be successful, retailers must figure out how to connect with customers via digital platforms and in stores.
Published on: 17/10/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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