Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores (SHO), the nation’s fifth largest white-goods retailer, is looking to rev up its major appliance business with a broad new initiative.
The strategy, which rolls out this month to 51 Hometown stores across 13 states, includes a new, wider product assortment; new merchandising concepts; refreshed fixtures and signage; touchscreen kiosks; and comprehensive training for sales associates.
Under the plan, designed to reestablish the Sears spinoff as “America’s Appliance Experts,” majaps will occupy more than half of the sales floor and will be remerchandised to focus on more fully featured models under the Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Samsung and Kenmore brands.
The departments will also showcase complete four-piece kitchen packages through the creation of three separate mixed-brand kitchen vignettes, and will add a dedicated “innovation area” for multiple laundry lines.
In addition, the chain is upping its associates’ majap chops with increased training and brand-specific selling certification, and is equipping them with wireless tablets to access product and pricing information on the fly.
Customers can also research products and make purchases on newly installed touchscreen kiosks, making Sears Hometown “one of the first national retailers in rural America to integrate tablets into the sales process,” said John Sessoms, the chain’s merchandising and assorting divisional merchandise manager.
“In some of our smaller-square- footage stores we are unable to showcase the entire assortment of merchandise, so having this technology enables our associates and customers to view the wide range of products that we have available,” he said.
Added COO Will Powell: “We rethought the buying process from end to end and created a very unique and positive experience for our customers.”
President/CEO Bruce Johnson, formerly interim CEO of Sears Holdings, had hinted at a new appliance plan earlier this month in response to disappointing sales and earnings. Other components of the initiative include a focus on the top 10 majap brands; a price-match program; and enhancing the entire customer experience, from product selection to delivery.
The revamp is initially being piloted in 51 Hometown stores in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Vermont. Grand reopening events are slated for April 23-25.
It is unclear whether elements of the initiative will carry over to the company’s Outlet stores, which carry discontinued, scratch-and-dent and refurbished products.
The appliance, hardware and outdoor specialty retailer was spun off from Sears in 2012 and is comprised of 1,260 independent dealers and franchisees. It ranked fifth in TWICE’s Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers report with $1.6 billion in white-goods sales in 2013.