By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sears' major appliance relaunch, initiated this past summer to regain lost market share (see TWICE, June 23, p. 1), continues to evolve with the unfurling of a revamped, majaps-driven e-commerce site, and even a stint on television's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
CEO Alan Lacy noted that the newly enhanced Sears.com, which relaunched late last month, represents a "critical aspect" of the retailer's appliance initiative, which also includes more lower-priced models (and a new commission structure that favors them); improved signage; and greater in-store stock.
Bill Bass, who had previously run e-commerce operations for Lands' End and now serves as VP/general manager of Sears Customer Direct, concurred that the changes at Sears.com were dictated in large measure by majaps. "We asked ourselves 'How do you kick a business with a 40 percent market share up to the next level?'" he said. The Web site was a logical avenue, he noted, because nearly 20 percent of appliance purchases made in a Sears store were first researched at Sears' site.
Improvements include faster and easier navigation and sorting tools that allow online shoppers to more quickly drill down through the site's 3,500-model assortment based on such criteria as price, color, brand, capacity, power source, or venting needs.
Bass also increased the informational content by a factor of five, creating an online data base, or Buying Guide, that provides comprehensive specs, requirements, optional equipment, owner's manuals, service and warranty information, delivery options, side-by-side comparisons, and multiple product shots.
Sears has also installed Internet kiosks within the appliance departments of all full-line locations to allow in-store customers to tap into the site's greater selection and resources.
Meanwhile, on a different front, Sears heralded "Energy Month" on "The Tonight Show" earlier this month by catapulting used, energy-inefficient majaps 30 yards across NBC's backlot. The Sears-developed educational campaign is designed to encourage consumers to replace their old appliances with new Energy Star-rated products.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.