HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. — Sears Holdings has begun rolling out wireless Connected Solutions shops to 200 Sears and 300 Kmart stores around the country, and is planning a major home automation prototype display in San Bruno, Calif.
The shops are under 2,000 square feet and feature live displays of over 100 wireless products, including wearables, locks, garage door openers, thermostats, motion sensors and monitors, along a 50-foot aisle.
The company is also planning a more elaborate 3,900-square-foot demo home within a San Bruno Sears store in Tanforan Mall, which will feature lifestyle vignettes within its rooms and product displays by category.
Both the shops and the demo home are expected to be in place by midyear.
Connected-product displays are also being placed within the stores’ CE, appliance and fitness departments to highlight relevant devices and services.
The rollout follows a nearly year-long test of connected boutiques at three Illinois Sears stores, and the creation of an overarching connected-home strategy that will encompass Sears’ CE, appliance and fitness businesses.
Ryan Ciovacco, Sears’ recently named president of Connected Solutions and consumer electronics, told TWICE that the strategy leverages the company’s traditional strengths in such areas as installation services, home appliances, automotive and exercise equipment, each of which “makes sense for Connected Solutions.”
Ciovacco, who joined Sears from Amazon.com where he helped launch the e-tailer’s online homeautomation store, said connected technology needs to be displayed within a physical space to fully demonstrate its real-world applications.
“The only way this business will move past early adopters is if we show the practicality of it,” he said. Ciovacco said Sears plans to study the pilot demo home before deciding whether to extend the concept to other flagship stores, and stressed that the Connected Solutions strategy refines, rather than replaces, its core CE categories.
“We’re not getting out of TV, we’re focusing on smart TVs; we’re not just selling traditional loudspeakers, we’re selling Bluetooth speakers,” he said.
Sears’ connected merchandising plans are the most elaborate among national chains like Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Best Buy, Staples and Walmart, which have largely relegated the category to endcaps and aisle displays.