L.L.Bean’s iconic duck boots are now available on Zappos.com.
The online retailer announced today that the two companies have entered into a wholesale partnership, which will allow it to sell the outdoor brand’s footwear and apparel on its website.
As part of the initial rollout, customers will be able to shop the popular Bean boots on Zappos.com starting today. This week, the Maine-based business will release its Wicked Good Slippers on the e-commerce platform, as well as a selection of L.L.Bean products — including outerwear, flannels, fleece and more in men’s, women’s and kids’ sizes — throughout the month of October and the rest of the year.
“There’s a special alignment of our values [with L.L.Bean],” Zappos general manager of merchandise strategy Karlyn Mattson told FN. “It’s pretty extraordinary to launch given the times we’re in, and I’ll give credit to both teams for just continuing push through to make it happen. It was a passion project in that we just love everything about the [L.L.Bean] brand and their people.”
According to L.L.Bean, the wholesale agreement is its latest effort in its omnichannel growth strategy to make its shoes, clothing and outdoor gear more accessible to consumers both digitally and in retail chains across the country.
Just three months ago, the 108-year-old brand, which had long been focused on its direct-to-consumer retail and catalog business in the United States, broadened its reach by inking three wholesale deals — one of which was with Nordstrom. Twenty of the department store chain’s outposts, plus Nordstrom.com, now stock L.L.Bean’s duck boots, as well as its apparel, accessories and other merchandise.
In addition, the company is selling its backpacks and accessories in Staples stores, and is also teaming up with Midwestern sporting goods retailer Scheels on an assortment of essential styles.
“We’ve been working on this wholesale venture for a year, and we now have four great partnerships,” said L.L.Bean chief merchandising officer Bryson Hopkins. “Each one has a different identity and product focus. We really wanted to have some diversification in the companies we work with — not only from a category standpoint, but also in channel expertise — so having Zappos added to the three other partnerships we have really gives us a leg up from an e-commerce standpoint.”
Over the past several months, L.L.Bean reported a spike in sales as consumers hunkered down at home amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The brand told FN that it sold a pair of slippers every minute in March, while outdoor furniture and hammock sales were up a respective 80% and 150% in April. In May and June, bike sales rose 400%, and the July and August period saw women’s active apparel sales nearly double.
What’s more, in September — which L.L.Bean called its “strongest in recent history” — the company saw “significant growth” in fleece and flannel categories, as well as winter sports gear, including sleds and children’s snow boots.
“Q4 is our sweet spot; we always shine in the holiday season,” Hopkins said. “Some brands find this period of time difficult, but we think we have an opportunity to invite more people into L.L.Bean that can position us nicely for the future, and many of the strategies that we already had in place are already COVID-advantaged. We don’t have to change our direction; we just have to stay true to our brand.”