December 22, 2012

At Bean's – all hands on deck

Executives and administrators are expected to get out of the office and help on the floor, filling those last-minute orders.

By DAVID SHARP The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Santa Claus hats and antlers add a little fun to the fast-paced pressure for workers in L.L. Bean’s order fulfillment center in Freeport on Thursday. The company added 4,700 seasonal workers for the holiday push – every year the retailer goes into high gear to fulfill the crunch of orders for Christmas.

The Associated Press

Chris McCormack, Carolyn Beem
click image to enlarge

Chris McCormack, right, the CEO of Bean’s, works alongside company spokesman Carolyn Beem as they prepare packages for shipping.

The Associated Press

McCormick said it's nice to get out among the workers but there's a practical purpose for having everyone pitch in, including the men and women at the upper echelon of the company.

On this day, the distribution center was behind schedule because snow had kept many workers home the day before. Administrators were called in to help get back on schedule.

Like most retailers, L.L. Bean makes half of its annual sales in the last two months of the year. And retailers are more than happy to oblige late shoppers, especially since holiday sales haven't been especially strong going into the final shopping weekend before Christmas, according to Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse.

Nationwide, the final retail push on Friday and Saturday is expected to yield $34 billion in total sales, accounting for roughly 8 percent of the $400 billion in December sales, McNamara said.

After Christmas, and the ensuing returns, the entire planning process starts anew.

"It's interesting being a retailer. You plan all year for four weeks. This is where we make most of our sales and most of our money," said McCormick.

"After Christmas, you feel like you just ran a marathon and now you get back on the treadmill and you've got to do it again." McCormick and Van Soest scanned the products with a bar code reader, printed shipping labels and order forms, and then boxed up the items, tossing in catalogs for good measure. On this day, popular items included headlamps, Wicked Good slippers and shirts.

In the past, McCormick worked on a product-sorting conveyor line, in the retail store stockroom, and in a recycling area, breaking down empty cardboard boxes. The worst job of all, he said, was one stint working in the part of the call center that deals with angry and frustrated customers, attempting to set things right.

"It's hard because you've disappointed people and you don't want to disappoint anybody, especially at this time of the year," McCormick said. "I wouldn't want their job."

The company does its best to keep customers happy. On that day, hundreds of shipments were being upgraded free of charge to UPS air to beat the first major winter storm in the Midwest.

McCormick said it's nice to get out among the workers but there's a practical purpose for having everyone pitch in, including the men and women at the upper echelon of the company.

On this day, the distribution center was behind schedule because snow had kept many workers home the day before. Administrators were called in to help get back on schedule.

Like most retailers, L.L. Bean makes half of its annual sales in the last two months of the year. And retailers are more than happy to oblige late shoppers, especially since holiday sales haven't been especially strong going into the final shopping weekend before Christmas, according to Michael McNamara, vice president for research and analysis at MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse.

Nationwide, the final retail push on Friday and Saturday is expected to yield $34 billion in total sales, accounting for roughly 8 percent of the $400 billion in December sales, McNamara said.

After Christmas, and the ensuing returns, the entire planning process starts anew.

"It's interesting being a retailer. You plan all year for four weeks. This is where we make most our sales and most of our money. After Christmas, you feel like you just ran a marathon and now you get back on the treadmill and you've got to do it again," McCormick said.

 

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