Ill. – Sears Holdings reiterated to
shareholders its plan to invest heavily in its e- and m-commerce operations to
help return the company to profitability.
Speaking at the retailer’s
annual meeting at corporate headquarters here yesterday, chairman Eddie Lampert,
CEO Lou D’Ambrosio and stores president/chief merchandising officer Ron Boire said
they will continue to beef up the company’s website and multichannel Shop Your
Way Rewards loyalty program, look for new licensing opportunities for its
private-label brands, and improve the in-store experience with better lighting
and improved product adjacencies.
also indicated that Sears may continue to back away from the steep price
promotions that marked its majap merchandising strategy in recent years.
Appliance discounting contributed to its sharp earnings declines last year, the
company conceded, while better majap margins were largely responsible for its
improved first-quarter results.
Lampert said that
Sears has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on “customer engagement,”
including the three-year-old loyalty program which provides members with personalized
mobile coupons. Membership has doubled over the past year to tens of millions
of customers who have increased their store visits and average transaction
size, and are using their points to make purchases across all Sears brands and categories,
Boire noted that
the in-store improvements — which also include changing displays to highlight
key categories and relocating the check-out counters to free up space and
improve cashier engagement with customers — will be tested in four stores.
answer shareholders’ strategic questions about future sales or spinoffs, or the
possibility of taking the company private.
In a research
note, Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter lauded management’s efforts to encourage
its customers to shop online, at stores, through a mobile app, or to pick up
their purchases in-store. “We wish more of our hardline retailers would
appreciate that the consumer has changed for good and that serving them the way
the customer wants to be served is the only way to compete in the future,” he
Nevertheless, he argued
that the operating businesses are overvalued and that Lampert and his team “are
trying to make lemonade out of two very rotten lemons.”