BrainTrust Query: We Have Met Retail’s Future, and it is Sears
Commentary by Carol Spieckerman, President, Newmarketbuilders
Through a special arrangement,
presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Newmarketbuilders’
Sears is quietly incubating and activating the business models and platforms
that will transform retail’s future, even as it appears to lose at the
ones everyone watches now.
Chairman Eddie Lampert amassed his fortune by monetizing
what is hidden in plain sight, so it follows that judging Sears based on its
tattered window dressing should be beside the point. Pull back the curtains,
though, and an ingenious outside-in strategy is unfolding. If Sears isn’t the
most distinguished retailer operating on terra firma (and it isn’t), it’s surely
poised to become one of the most influential everywhere else.
These are the
stealthy game-changers that have my attention:
1. Marketplace at Sears.com – Sears
isn’t just integrating a million or so web-unique items, they are branding
the effort and doing the full Amazon by actively courting brands that want
to leverage their platform.
Also, rather than portraying the Marketplace as
a velvet rope brand vetting, Sears is encouraging participation and making
the process as easy as one, two, three via its “seller portal.” Walmart
has expanded its offerings through selective brand alliances; Target and others’
online SKU explosions create an “endless aisle.” Sears has done
all of that and created a platform that generates passive revenue.
2. MyGofer – Site-to-store
is one thing; MyGofer is quite another. Through MyGofer, shoppers can create
lists and shop, then have items pulled and waiting at select Kmart stores.
Mygofer’s front page is contemporary, clean and intuitive, with products organized
by usage and need states, and the site is supported by live chat. Once again,
outside merchants and local businesses are encouraged to sell their wares on
Localization? Solved! Multi-channel shopper insights? Solved! Personal
attention and service? Solved! Passive revenue for Sears? Solved (again)!
Sears the Licensor – The $1.8 billion entity that houses the
Sears’ Craftsman, DieHard, and Kenmore brand triumvirate promises to spread
its tentacles far and wide through additional licensing agreements. So, while
J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s obsess on bringing exclusive brands into their
stores — and as Best Buy explodes
its private portfolio in categories once reserved for national brands —
Sears is dusting off the brands it already has and counting the royalty checks.
Creating new brands is so 2009!
When asked recently whether brick-and-mortar
stores would even be necessary going forward, Mr. Lampert replied, “It’s
hard to believe that the stores won’t be important for a long period.”
couldn’t he have been a bit more emphatic?
I can see Sears and Kmart stores
(at least some of them) morphing into dedicated pick-up hubs, pure service
or demo plays and temporary pop-ups that will become as flexible as virtual
space already is. I don’t think Eddie Lampert would have it any other way.
And won’t it be fascinating to see what happens when his attention finally
swings back to the stores … you know, the ones that will support all that
Discussion Questions: What’s going right at Sears? Of the three “game-changers” noted
in the article, which do you think holds the most promise for Sears or even for