L.L. Bean Achieves Maximum Agility Despite COVID-19 Pandemic


Founded by Leon Leonwood Bean in 1912, L.L. Bean is a Freeport, Maine-based apparel and outdoor retailer that employs approximately 10,000 people during peak sales season.

L.L. Bean earns $1.6 million in annual revenue and ships its iconic catalogues to customers in more than 150 countries around the world. The company is also a long-time Blue Yonder partner. By implementing Blue Yonder’s merchandise financial planning, forecasting and replenishment capabilities, L.L. Bean is now able to more accurately predict sales, appropriately buy products from their vendors and get the right merchandise to the right stores – and into their customers’ hands.

Their improved forecasting, responsiveness and agility was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when, like many other retailers, L.L. Bean experienced a significant shift in demand.

Business Impact

Increased Market Read Accuracy
Enhanced Inventory Productivity
Improved Customer Service Levels
Automated and Integrated Processes

The Challenge

Years ago, L.L. Bean invested in Blue Yonder tools and capabilities to better read the market so its teams could accurately invest in inventory for the subsequent year. With Blue Yonder’s help, L.L. Bean was able to create accurate forecasting not only for the coming year, but achieve long-term visibility and planning capabilities for several years ahead.
But when COVID-19 hit, L.L. Bean was forced to shift its focus to more short-term solutions. Months of the company’s inventory – especially in categories like bikes, boats, and camping supplies – was sold in a few short weeks. The L.L. Bean team had to read and react quickly to be able to fulfill its mission to help customers live outdoors

The Results

With Blue Yonder’s financial planning, forecasting and replenishment capabilities, L.L. Bean was able to turn a major merchandising challenge into opportunity. Blue Yonder tools enabled the team to generate new insights and information essentially overnight – a process that would have been impossible if attempted manually.

Through accurate forecasting and the ability to communicate in real time to vendors, the company was able to react quickly to major, unexpected shifts in demand. Because of this agility, L.L. Bean was able to exceed sales plans in many categories by more than 130% while also reducing inventory liabilities in other areas that were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

With Blue Yonder’s capabilities, L.L Bean was also able to:

  • Gain a more accurate market read
  • Automate and integrate its processes
  • Increase inventory productivity
  • Improve customer service levels

Set up for Business Success

In 2019, L.L. Bean implemented a method called ‘slow mover logic,’ which places more reliance on prescribed safety stock instead of imprecise forecast on the lowest level, addressing the majority of SKUs.

This method helped the company immensely when the pandemic hit because it allowed L.L. Bean to utilize inventory for direct sales when stores were temporarily closed. Once stores reopened, the company harnessed the power of dynamic allocation based on historical need variables of prior week sales for deployment calculations.

L.L. Bean was also able to prioritize orders based on store tiers, product profile and product exposure, which was also made possible by retail levers also implemented with the help of Blue Yonder in 2019.

Related Resources

Get in Touch With Us

Start your supply chain transformation with our team of experts