How to Get Product into L.L. Bean Inc.
L.L. Bean is a major retailer of clothing, shoes, and outdoor equipment. The company’s headquarters are in Freeport, Maine. This small-town location has imprinted a family-business culture into the company. The company also has four manufacturing/distribution locations and three call center locations in Maine. Additionally, there are about 30 retail locations throughout the north-eastern United States.
L.L. Bean is an American, privately held retail company founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean. Along with a number of retail and outlet stores, the company maintains its flagship store on Main Street in Freeport, Maine. At this store, an open door policy is maintained and has been noted to only have closed twice.
Since its inception, the company has branched out not only to variations on its boots but to other outdoor equipment such as firearms, backpacks, tents, as well as producing a full line of clothing, which is now its mainstay.
L.L. Bean is a global company sourcing its products from the US and across the globe. In 2016, its Brunswick, Maine factory employed more than 450 people who handmake the company’s products such as the Maine Hunting Shoe, L.L. Bean Boot, Boat and Totes, dog beds, leather goods and backpacks.
The company operates 30 retail stores and 10 factory outlets in the US, and 25 retail stores in Japan, in addition to its catalog and online sales operations.
The strength of L.L. Bean’s Healthy Bean program lies in several factors — importantly, its strong leadership commitment, a good communications strategy that is tailored to its employee population, and rigorous measurement and evaluation to guide program planning.
Since 1982, L.L. Bean has built a comprehensive health promotion program that today reaches more than 5,000 employees, family members, and retirees. The Healthy Bean program was built on the principle that healthy people lead fuller, more active, more satisfying, and more productive lives, and that they are more able to attend to their personal safety on the job.
You need a unique selling point as a vendor. This is what strikes you different from other vendors. Your offerings are seen differently when you have uniqueness to your market offerings. If you don’t have one at the moment, look at what you offer in products and services and see how you can make it better. It could be a payment service, or the large varieties you present, or the extra-special freshness of what you offer. Just do something differently.
This clothier has a reputable brand and its retail offerings are quite large. It sells thousands of products and can be a profitable retail outlet. If your products are quite popular in the local market, it will be easy for you to easily pitch to this retailer. You have to bring your product to top quality to help you with the pitch of the product. More, you have to ensure that your products conform to regulatory standards.
How to get your product into L.L. Bean Inc.
- Understand you client: Before you spend a lot of time and money creating a product, you should know if anyone will want to buy it. Learn more about Market Research
- Learn if it’s protectable: Know if you can defend your product against cheap copies if it gets knocked off. Learn more about Copyright and Patent your product
- Test your product: Make sure that there’s a demand for your product and the customer understands what you are selling when it’s on the shelf and nobody is there to explain it. Learn more about Product Testing
- Perfect your pitch: Before you speak to decision makers, know your numbers, know your retailer and know your logistics in and out. Learn more about Pitching Your Product
- Don’t do it alone: If you haven’t been successful in retail before, a secret of success is that you can’t do it alone. Having great sales staff, customer support and marketing partners can take you from zero to success faster than if you tried on your own. Learn more about Retail Partnerships
Contact L.L. Bean Inc. Buyer
Do not trust any “list” of buyers.
Typically retail buyers change either companies or positions every few years. This strategy helps retailers know that their buyers are not taking “kick-backs” and are selecting the very best product for the very best position each time.
Buyers are typically held to a very rigorous standard of sell-through volume that they must hit and because of this they are risk averse. Your job as a supplier or vendor is to convince them that the buyers going into the stores not only know about what you’re selling but are actively seeking the product in the store currently.
Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on L.L. Bean Inc. radar.
Call the L.L. Bean Inc. corporate phone number and ask for the names of the buyer and assistant buyers in your category.
Always leave voicemail with whomever the dispatch will connect you.
Use that information to connect with them on LinkedIn, RangeMe and any other professional social platform.
Ask your representative at your trade bureau to connect you to the L.L. Bean Inc. buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to L.L. Bean Inc. buyer through 3rd party websites & industry media sources.
Be everywhere that they look, the key is to position your brand as the obvious choice when L.L. Bean Inc. is looking to either refill a slot or create a new category.
Latch on to the news of the day and any trend that will make your product fill that niche whether that be Non-GMO or Vegan Leather for example.
Investing in your brand can only benefit your opportunities in the future. As being “top of mind” will have a ripple effect when you physically present your product at a L.L. Bean Inc. buyers meeting or trade show in the future.
L.L. Bean Inc. buyers typically got to their position by picking “winners” and know how to see through the fluff.
Focus on the numbers, know your bottom dollar during a negotiation and how fees and chargebacks may cut into your position.
Know that long term success may outweigh short term sales, however financing large purchase orders from L.L. Bean Inc. when the net result is negative is not sustainable.
Understand the playing field and the other brands that are in your space, what they are offering as promotion and pricing and how you can stand out against them.
By knowing that each buyer at L.L. Bean Inc. probably knows more than you do, take an active listening approach to sales and understand that no is a perfectly acceptable answer that may have saved you millions of dollars on the backend.
How to Submit a Product to L.L. Bean Inc.
There are several ways to get a product placed in L.L. Bean Inc. However, most entrepreneurs only dream about getting their product distributed to major retailers, few actually do it. We have experienced a significant rise in interest since the show Shark Tank started airing on NBC. Mr. Checkout has had the pleasure of working with a few Shark Tank success stories such as KISStixx and 180 Party Cups which are now currently being distributed around the country to stores like Walmart, Target, Kroger, 7-Eleven and more.
If you envision your product would be a good fit for L.L. Bean Inc., we have a few steps to help you get your product on their shelves.
Here are the 6 steps you need to take to have your product placed in L.L. Bean Inc.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to L.L. Bean Inc., you need to ask yourself a few basic questions. Do you need to build demand for your product, or is there already a demand for it? Do you know that L.L. Bean Inc. would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with L.L. Bean Inc., can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to L.L. Bean Inc., or do you want to license your product to a manufacturer that will handle distribution?
2. Be prepared to profit.) Does your product offer enough of a profit margin for L.L. Bean Inc.? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check L.L. Bean Inc. guidelines for other fees that you will have to build into the cost of your product in order for you to be able to turn enough of a profit to make the effort worth your while. If you work with a discount retailer, they will try to strip your profits down to zero in order to keep their prices as low as possible.
The typical breakdown of margins are: If a products costs $1 to produce, that product will retail for $4. That product that retails for $4 will wholesale for $2 to distributors and stores that purchase direct. Big box retailers like L.L. Bean Inc. may offer to pay $1.25 to the manufacturer if the product costs $1 to produce. That is the typical profit margin.
3. Determine if L.L. Bean Inc. is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and L.L. Bean Inc. starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If L.L. Bean Inc. already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local L.L. Bean Inc. to see what kind of products they are selling, speak to the manager and see if he thinks your product will sell well in their store. Picture in which zone your product would best fit on the shelf and keep in mind that the most precious asset that these big box stores value are their shelf space. Keep this information in mind when you are preparing your presentation to L.L. Bean Inc.
If your company is minority or women owned, check L.L. Bean Inc. website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to L.L. Bean Inc.) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to L.L. Bean Inc. Your presentation depends heavily on your strengths as a businessperson as they will most likely ask financial questions and logistics questions.
It’s common for companies to hire a broker to pitch their product to L.L. Bean Inc., as it will be more likely that your product will make it to the next stage if the individual pitching your product has industry knowledge or a personal relationship with L.L. Bean Inc. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to L.L. Bean Inc.
We at Mr. Checkout have experience dealing with brokers and know that there are several retail brokers that have poor business practices that can potentially damage your brand. If you are seeking a legitimate L.L. Bean Inc. broker, please give us a call for a recommendation. It could save you a huge headache and a lot of money.
5. Complete the required L.L. Bean Inc. paperwork.) Often L.L. Bean Inc. will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by L.L. Bean Inc., you should contact a buyer at L.L. Bean Inc. and let them know your intentions. Having a contact inside of the company will potentially move your application more smoothly through the process.
6. Anticipate the need for increased volume.) Having L.L. Bean Inc. agree to stock your product will most likely mean a significant increase in volume. You should be prepared to ramp up your production and informing your manufacturer of this opportunity.
Having production, logistics and distribution to sync is not only difficult, it requires a significant amount of time invested in customer relations. Also, L.L. Bean Inc. may have stipulations in the contract that may penalize you for delays in shipping and production. Have an attorney explain all contracts to you if you don’t understand the terms.
If you’re looking to sell your product to L.L. Bean Inc., be sure to thoroughly assess the marketplace, carefully prepare for production growth, and take full advantage of resources available to help you grow your business.
(est. time 3 minutes)