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[15 comments]

Will Chicago Gofer Sears' Same-Day In-Store Pickup Service?

February 26, 2013

Sears Holdings is testing a new version of its MyGofer store pickup service aimed at busy urban professionals.

For now, the MyGofer Express pilot, launched last week, is being tested at its downtown Chicago location. Locals can order all of the Sears Holdings brands, including Craftsman, Kenmore and Lands' End, as well as groceries and perscriptions from nearby Kmarts. Also available will be goods from local vendors, including Chicago Cupcake, Mon Ami Jewelry and The Clay Pot Flower Shop in the Loop. After ordering online, customers pick up their purchases the same day at the flagship Sears State Street location.

"If I'm at work and I need to pick up a few things, I may not have the opportunity to shop at a store, I just have enough time to stop at a store," Kevin Lyons, Sears Holdings divisional vice president of integrated retail experience, told the Chicago Tribune. "I might want to pick up some cupcakes ... a blender from Sears and a case of popcorn from Kmart. I can get those all in one place at the express location."

MyGofer, launched in 2009, enables shoppers to buy Kmart merchandise (groceries, prescriptions, health and beauty products, and electronics, etc.) through MyGofer.com or the mygofer2go mobile app and pick them up at a Kmart store in as little as two hours. Customers don't even have to leave their cars.

Speaking to the Trib, Carol Spieckerman, president of Newmarketbuilders and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, said the focus on urbanites under MyGofer Express is smart because they place a high value on convenience.

In-store MyGofer pickups are free with same-day delivery available for a fee. Sears' competitors all seem to offer free in-store pickup although only for merchandise available in the store. Most appear to be focusing more on fee-based same-day delivery versus in-store pickup.

Sears Domestic and Kmart online sales increased approximately 20 percent in 2012 with the largest growth occurring in multi-channel transactions (buy online, pickup in- store and order in-store, ship-to-home), which now make up approximately half of its online business.

FINANCIALS:     [NASDAQ:SHLD] [ ]

Discussion Questions:

How much more or less popular will in-store and/or curbside pickup services become over the next five years? What is your assessment of the MyGofer Express test?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How much more or less popular will in-store and/or curbside pickup services become over the next five years?

Comments:

Maybe Millennials have no baggage about the brand of Sears or Kmart and will welcome this in a flagship location of Chicago. However, I can't see many shoppers of my age going to any of the Sears I've seen for anything, much less high-end cupcakes.

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Bob Phibbs, President/CEO, The Retail Doctor

It may have some success, but Sears and Kmart do not rate high on many people's list anymore. Good luck to them, as the competition will follow with a new idea to keep their customers.

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Tony Orlando, Owner, Tony O's Supermarket & Catering

I remember other stores testing this in the '90s and by the 2000s they had dropped it. Looks like just another empty press release from Sears. Based on all the empty and distressed Kmart real estate, that pretty much answers all those "how popular will...?" questions about Sears.

David Livingston, Principal, DJL Research

The issue isn't how fast Sears shoppers can get their purchases, the issue is that not enough people want to shop at Sears in the first place. Speeding up the process at a retailer nobody shops at doesn't the solve the problem that nobody shops there.

It's a great service—for a retailer with the critical mass of consumers to support it.

No question, it will be popular with shoppers—at other chains.

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Ryan Mathews, Founder, ceo, Black Monk Consulting

Time is a valuable commodity for consumers. Retailers are looking for ways to attract shoppers by making the shopping experience more convenient. Amazon is testing this through 7-Eleven stores and same day delivery. Add Sears to the list.

I'm not sure how many items an urban commuter will want to carry home on a bus or train, and this does negate the retailer's desire to have consumers make impulse purchases in-store, but it will save time.

Look for retailers continue experimenting with convenience.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

How does the curbside pick-up service work in a busy urban area? If it causes another traffic jam in downtown Chicago, the convenience factor may be negated. If the pick-up issue works, ordering things from a variety of stores with one pick-up could work. How much time needs to be given for pick-up so that goods ordered from other stores can be brought to this one location and made available? The logistics must be worked out well to provide the real convenience this idea promises. It will be an interesting test to watch.

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Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D., President, Global Collaborations, Inc.

Curbside pickup can be convenient, but I cannot see it growing all that much in the next few years. This seems particularly true for brands like Sears and Kmart. Curbside pickup seems to fill a small niche, items that are not commodities that I can walk in a store pick up and walk out with little fuss, but still not items that I want to see, touch, etc. Buying online, but then still having to go out and pick up the item combines some of the negative traits of both online and brick and mortar experience.

Kurt Seemar, President, Analytic Marketing Innovations

In-store and/or curbside pickup services will likely gain traction. Amazon's push for same day delivery will probably spur brick and mortar stores to try and match convenience with these types of services. For consumers that are comfortable ordering from retailers' websites and confident that the merchandise will be available for a drive up-and-go kind of service, there would be little downside to embracing it.

Sears on the other hand talks the talk, but that's it. It's a company that can't get e-commerce straight; how can adding a more sophisticated service ever work for them?

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Ken Lonyai, Digital Innovation Strategist, co-founder, ScreenPlay InterActive

This is an interesting way to build a portal between Sears' e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar stores. It may be an effective counter-move to Amazon before it gains a foothold in physical locations—especially if the concept can overcome the stigma of "Sears and Kmart" (a big hill to climb). It's also an interesting choice of location, given what appears to be a well-trafficked CityTarget store right across the street catering to the same customer.

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Dick Seesel, Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC

The concept is a good one. Others are/have experimented with it. Sears and Kmart have to do something more than this to make their brand awareness and acceptance more popular with the general public.

Chicago is home. They could make it work there IF there is something needed from Sears that is urgent enough to want it now. But outside of Chicago, I have my doubts. Sears needs to do more than curbside pickup to get the public back shopping there.

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Ed Rosenbaum, CEO, The Customer Service Rainmaker, Rainmaker Solutions

This is 2013. I think free home delivery has won out over curbside pick up.

David Livingston, Principal, DJL Research

I am definitely interested in watching how in-store and curbside pickup goes. There are lots of moving parts, but if someone can get it down, it could add value. So far, the ones I have used, although the online part was easy, I did have to stand around and wait a while for someone who knew where my stuff was. I also liked the idea of being able to order from multiple locations that are nearby.

I can see this as a great entrepreneurial move and not necessarily offered by a single retailer. Concept is interesting but will it work for Sears/Kmart? I think they still have work to do in understanding who their customer is and what they want. IMHO

Lee Kent, Brings Retail Executives Together to Meet.Learn.Profit, RetailConnections

Flagship? Ummm, okay, whatever. Anyway, given its Loop location—which really hasn't gained much in parking even as it's lost its stores—I think the "for a fee" delivery might find more favor...certainly for the Craftsman and (even more) Kenmore products. In which case, since the goods are ordered online and delivered to another location, the (physical) store itself really plays no role.

'notcom'

Great idea, especially the curbside pick-up. Parking is at a premium, and getting into a store is often as much of a hassle because of this. Curbside pick-up ensures heightened convenience and ease of access, by marrying the online and on-ground models into a "best of both worlds" situation. Great idea for Sears/Kmart.

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Kai Clarke, President, Kowa Optimed, Inc.

We just finished a study with over 2,000 consumers in the U.S. that showed that this was the most easily adapted feature a retailer could add now, proving that Sears is on to something.

However, if they don't upgrade the relevance of their product it won't matter. And for Sears, keeping people even further away from their already needing stores could be an issue (last thing remembered). Upgrading stores, you'd think, should be a priority over this as well.

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Lee Peterson, EVP Creative Services, WD Partners

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