September 7, 2016

L.L.Bean backpacks are tough competitors in a $3.1B industry

As millions of parents across the globe make their back-to-school contributions to the $3.1 billion backpack industry, L.L.Bean aims to set itself apart with its promise of 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.

The Boston Globe visited L.L.Bean's product testing lab in Freeport, where backpacks and other outdoor gear are put through grueling trials to put the company's open return policy to the test.

The trials are akin to a military boot camp for backpacks. According to the Globe, zippers are opened and closed 20,000 times over the course of eight hours. L.L.Bean also loads the backpacks with 150 pounds of weight just to make sure they can withstand the heavy loads of users.

"It's a trust-but-verify world we live in," David P. DaPonte, senior manager of global quality and testing at L.L.Bean, told the Globe. "There's normal testing, and then there's trying to anticipate problems. That's what we do."

The testing seems to be helping the quality reputation. According to the Globe, overall backpack sales at L.L.Bean are growing 3% a year on average. The company would not specify sales figures.

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