L.L. Bean Adds Zappos to Its Wholesale Partners

OUT AND ABOUT: Self-isolation has left millions craving for the great outdoors, and one of the beneficiaries of that trend, L.L. Bean, is trying to strengthen consumer interest in its wilderness-ready products through a wholesale venture with Zappos.

With its latest announcement, L.L. Bean is building its reach. Diversifying with wholesale partners — Nordstrom, Scheels and Staples — was a first for the Freeport, Maine-based business and doing so placed L.L. Bean products in more than 1,200 stores and online with each retailer’s respective channel. Prior to taking the wholesale route to try to ramp up sales, L.L. Bean was largely known as a direct-to-consumer business and retail operation.

Now meeting customers where they are — presumably shopping more online at home versus actually visiting stores — has become more of a priority for the company, which was founded in 1912.

For the launch, the L.L. Bean boot is being sold on Zappos, and its Wicked Good slipper is soon to follow. L.L.Bean will introduce outerwear, flannels, fleece and other items for women, men and children via Zappos later this month.

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L.L. Bean’s chief merchant officer Bryson Hopkins cited Zappos’ reputation for customer service and how the partnership will help more people to “benefit from time in the outdoors.”

In what looks glaringly like signs of the times, L.L. Bean said sales in May and June for bikes gained by 400 percent and sales for kayaks and boats were up by 96 percent compared to last year. More recently, sales in July and August for outdoor apparel improved and women’s active apparel nearly doubled compared to last year, according to a company spokeswoman. Fishing and archery equipment have generated sales, as well as stand-up paddle boards. Winter sports categories have gotten off to a fast start with sales up 43 percent compared to last year, she said.

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