Sears’ launch of Kenmore-brand appliances on Amazon is picking up speed.
Four weeks after it began offering a limited assortment of private-label majaps to Amazon customers in Orange County, Calif., the chain has added 61 new products to the pot, including refrigerators, ranges, laundry pairs and Alexa-enabled ACs.
According to Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard president Tom Park, the line will be available to Amazon customers throughout Southern California by early September and in Sears’ hometown of Chicago by the end of the month.
From there, Sears will extend availability regionally until it achieves nationwide coverage, Park said.
The assortment, which includes the good-better-best Kenmore, Kenmore Elite and Kenmore Pro badges, is presented on what Park described in a Sears blog post as Amazon’s first and only dedicated brand page for home appliances.
The partnership also marks the first time Kenmore products are being sold by a retailer other than Sears, fulfilling a critical mandate for Park who was tasked with finding “alternatives” for its private-label triad of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands.
“This is a key milestone on Kenmore’s journey with Amazon, and we look forward to updating you on our progress,” Park noted.
Earlier this year the chain sold the Craftsman tool business to Stanley Black & Decker in a deal valued at $900 million.
Under terms of the latest deal, Sears is selling its appliance line directly to Amazon. The e-tailer owns the inventory but is leveraging Sears’ in-house Home Services unit and Innovel Solutions subsidiary for white-glove delivery and installation, and extended service support.
“In this way, the sale of each Kenmore appliance benefits Sears Holdings across multiple businesses, creating a major growth opportunity for our company,” Park wrote.
Conversely, the appliance pact provides Amazon with a full-bore entrée into a popular and profitable category which, save for third-party sales, has so far eluded the e-tailer due to the challenges of large-item fulfillment and set-up — and protests by retailers against any vendor-direct deals.
Should Amazon prove successful in revitalizing the fading Kenmore name, it could choose to buy the brand outright. That would no doubt thrill Sears chairman/CEO Eddie Lampert, who is looking to monetize any and all company assets to stave off insolvency.
But it should also send a chill throughout major appliancedom, which has watched Amazon subsume preceding consumer product categories including books, toys and electronics.
In the meantime, the Amazon partnership could prove itself a dual-edged sword for Sears. While availability through Amazon may boost Kenmore’s profile — particularly among a desirable millennial crowd that doesn’t shop its stores — it also gives consumers one less reason to visit Sears' appliance departments.