Monday, 16 August 2010

Compare and contrast: Lands’ End

This week sees Lands’ End launch its kidswear range in the UK, so as you would expect, the UK home page ( calls out the new line. In the US, however, Lands’ End ( has been selling childrenswear for some time (about 20 years!), so it doesn’t need a big announcement. Yet, it is the US site that features childrenswear most prominently on the home page with its 25 percent off back-to-school.
The UK site (above) devotes most of the home page’s prime real estate to the new autumn collection: “Introducing new styles you’ll love to layer”. It has a strong call to action: “Autumn’s so easy to put together! Shop now”. Further, below the main images is a rotating special-offer banner promoting free delivery on orders of £75 or more, and a reminder to shop the summer sale.

Below the banner are four boxes: Information about Lands’ End famous guarantee, an invitation to sign up to emails, catalogue request, and a link to find out more about Lands’ End gardening project, opened in July at Barnsdale Gardens by Tim Curtis, the managing director of Lands' End UK. The link to the gardens takes users to the Lands’ End blog, where they can view ten photos from launch day. A nice touch about the links on the home page is that they are all dynamic; when a user hover his mouse cursor over the box, the copy “moves up” to show more. Lastly, the home page features links to the about us, special services and customer services pages, as well as to clothing departments and to Lands’ End presence on social-media sites.

In contrast, the US site’s home page (above), has a lot less going on. The site is wider (a scroll bar appeared on my screen to move it from left to right—this was not present on the UK site). It has one main image instead of the UK site’s two. And it has one main message—“25% off back-to-school. Everything you need to get back to class in style”. Below the main image is a static banner promoting overstocks of up to 65% off. Personally, I like the UK’s summer sale banner better. Calling it “overstocks” has connotations that Lands’ End overordered and is left with lots of unwanted items. Summer sale sounds more “fun”—the last opportunity to enjoy summer before the knitwear and scarves come out to play, or a chance to grab a bargain before heading off for more sun in warmer climes.

The US site lacks the dynamic links of its UK counterpart, instead it has a blue box with information on customer services. Where it trumps the UK site is that it has Chat Online and Call Me functions. Overall however, the UK site is more social—the US website only links to Facebook from the home page and curiously, the link to its Twitter feed ( can only be found on the Newsroom page. A missed opportunity to connect with customers?

Looking at the categories, Lands’ End US has more on offer—it breaks down its departments into men, women, girls, boys, swim, outerwear, shoes, school uniforms, for the home, luggage, overstocks, and Lands’ End Canvas—a seemingly younger-skewing Lands’ End subbrand. The UK site keeps its simple: women, men, swimwear, jackets and coats, footwear, girls, boys, and sale. (I found it a little odd that the US calls it “outerwear” but “shoes”, and the UK “jackets and coats” but “footwear”.)

Moving inside

Because the terms for the departments were so different (“pants and shorts” together in the States, but “trousers and jeans” in the UK) I typed cardigan into the search bar, which was reassuringly located in the same place on both sites. I was greeted with an almost identical results page and picked the Women's Blissful Draped Cardigan. In the US it was priced from $29.50; UK price £25… but let’s not dwell on that. Both sites offer a choice of ten colours, but again, the US site goes one better and displays a rating next to the product description. On the product page itself, the British site still features no ratings or reviews and there are subtle differences in copy. Guess which is for an American audience and which is for the Brits? (Answer below)

1.) A lightweight complement to just about everything.
Soft, feathery-light jersey knit
Blend of cotton and polyester keeps its shape, shrugs off wrinkles
Graceful draped collar
Easy-moving raglan sleeves
Falls to low hip
Fit 1: Modern. Fitted through the body; never too tight, definitely not boxy. Plus sizes are Fit 2: Original. Not too slim or too loose

2.) A lightweight cardigan to complement just about everything.
Soft cotton/polyester blend knit – keeps its shape, shrugs off wrinkles
Graceful draped collar
Easy-moving raglan sleeves
Falls to low hip
Fit 1: Modern – slimmer through the body; not too tight. Plus sizes are Fit 2: Natural – not too slim, not too loose
Ultimately the product pages show brand consistency, but why the UK site, which has done so well up to now engaging its customers through a blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook, should omit product reviews is a bit of a mystery.

Mix and match
Lands’ End is one of those cataloguers that gets it right—not least because its brand is world famous for its exemplary customer services. I also know that Lands’ End tests everything, so I assume that accounts for the subtle language differences. Clearly though there are some things the UK site does better than the US. The creative and dynamic imaging on the home page are more engaging for a start, and the social media links show a desire to keep in touch with customers. However, Lands’ End US actively invites live chat and customer reviews, so each could learn a little from its counterpart across the Atlantic.

And the product copy? The first example is from the American website (below). Though I would have expected more info from the UK site considering there are no user reviews to really describe how the product looks and feels.--MT

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