retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post reports that Lands' End - which has been in the news lately because of management turmoil created by a new, fashion-conscious CEO who seems to some to be out of touch with the company's tradition and values - is launching an Amazon Prime-like membership service.

According to the story, "Lands’ End is promoting on its website a new program it is calling the Canvas by Lands’ End Circle Membership. For $50, customers can receive free shipping and free returns on all Canvas by Lands’ End purchases, as well as 20 percent off all full-price purchases, among other perks, such as early access to sales."

The Post says that "it’s not hard to see why Lands’ End and other retailers think they might benefit from a Prime-like subscription. For Amazon, the program has been a powerful loyalty-building tool, an incentive for customers to come back to the site again and again. Prime is estimated to have more than 40 million subscribers, and perhaps more than anything else Amazon has done, it has helped turn occasional shoppers into habitual ones."

And, the Post goes on: "Lands’ End is not the only retailer experimenting with a Prime-like service. Sephora recently launched Flash, a subscription that allows customers to pay $10 per year for two-day shipping on all online purchases. And Walmart has been testing an offering called Shipping Pass, in which customers pay $50 a year for free three-day shipping on all purchases. (It’s not clear yet whether Walmart will roll that pilot program out to the masses.) And other iterations of subscriptions, too, are popping up in the marketplace. Restoration Hardware recently launched a program in which you pay $100 a year to receive 25 percent off all purchases, in addition to some other perks."
KC's View:
I think the press makes a mistake when it defines Prime as a subscription model. It is, in fact, more of a loyalty program. (Subscribe-and-Save is the subscription model.) That said, it always is a good idea for retailers to find ways to identify, communicate with, and give preference to best customers. Not sure it'll make a difference for Lands' End, but it certainly is worth a shot.