After 100 Years, a Year is the Limit

After 100 Years, a Year is the Limit

February 18, 2018

L.L. Bean has changed its 106-year old return policy. Returns will now be limited to a one-year time period.

If that sounds generous, keep in mind that for over a hundred years, the company has offered an ‘unlimited’ customer return policy.

Over the last five years, the viral nature of social media has accelerated losses on returns to $250 million. These products are what the company calls “destroy quality”, items so used or damaged they’re sent to landfills.

This post is based on the CBS News article, L.L. Bean changes its unusually generous product return policy, by The Associated Press, February 9, 2018. 

Discussion Questions
1. How might the merchandise return policy change impact L.L Bean’s order winner(s)?

Guidance: Students should review the concept of order qualifiers/order winners.  Ask students to identify the order winner(s) that L.L. Bean had under the old customer return policy.  Students should then compare the new customer return policy to competing firms in the retail industry.  Does the new return policy change L.L. Bean’s order winner(s)?

2. With over $250 million of returns at L.L. Bean over the last five years, identify the supply chain issues created by Continue reading

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“The Most Comfortable Shoe in the World”

“The Most Comfortable Shoe in the World”

A former pro-athlete from New Zealand teamed up with a friend to develop shoes made of wool. The project was crowdfunded and resulted in a machine-washable, wool sneaker that has been labeled “the most comfortable shoe in the world.”

Product sales have exceeded expectations. They value their customers’ input and continue to improve the design of the shoe.

This post is based on the CNN article, Allbirds Is Shaking Up Footwear With Machine-Washable Wool Shoes, by A. Garcia, January 17, 2018.

Discussion Questions

1) Compared to a lightweight leather sneaker, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the Allbirds sneaker?

Guidance: Link this discussion to Garvin’s dimensions of product quality. Advantages to mention: perceived quality (multiple redesigns), features (breathable, machine-washable, etc.), performance (comfort), conformance (multiple redesigns). Disadvantages: less durability (wool is probably not as durable as leather), unknown consistency due to age of company, unknown serviceability due to novelty of product.

2) What external factors did the developers see as opportunities?

Guidance: Discuss the market factors that made consumers embrace this product. Demographics: young and older people are attracted to the novelty and comfort. Psychographics: environmentally conscious individuals like the sustainability of the product; active individuals Continue reading

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