I just spent the last week at the grand opening of our new Sears Home Services Seattle tech development office. It might sound cliché, but the office, located downtown within the Columbia Center Tower, is buzzing with energy.
On the 28th floor, a team of engineers, designers and product developers are creating the technological systems and processes that will enable us to revolutionize the way that Sears approaches home services and repair.
This growing team is motivated by a belief that the home services industry is poised to be disrupted in the same way that Uber has changed how we get from Point A to Point B, and how Airbnb has transformed how people book travel accommodations. And it’s a disruption that only Sears has the experience, team, data and infrastructure to achieve.
Led by Ian Clarkson, head of Home Services’ technology, and Heidi Robinson, who is in charge of Home Services products, the team is heads-down, working diligently against tight deadlines that are in a constant state of deployment. It’s the environment of a start-up, but with the comfort of being backed by one of America’s largest retailers and trusted name in home services. Heidi told me that “Some weeks, we have Monday morning ideas and Monday afternoon deployments.”
As part of the grand opening celebration, Ian, Heidi and I shared our story with select local and national media outlets. As we explained our vision and illustrated how we are changing systems in ways that have never been previously attempted, one reporter responded: “Wow, it’s like you have an undiscovered jewel!”
We agree. Sears is the only coast-to-coast provider in this marketplace, bringing more than 50 years of appliance and home-repair data. We are also the only player who has a fleet of over 7,000 technicians who can offer nationwide coverage, making us the only business that owns the entire end-to-end experience when it comes to in-home service.
Today, our Seattle team is working on improving everything from the front-end user experience to the back-end infrastructure that powers the operational processes. We are applying new technologies and algorithms to the data in order to diagnose and predict what part is needed to service a broken appliance before the technician arrives at a member or customer’s home.
So, how are we doing?
As Ian explains, “The work we are doing is a trifecta of greatness – it will mean a better experience for our members, an enhanced work environment for our associates and efficiencies for the business through updated, modern technology.”
I’m proud of the team we’re building and excited about what is in store for our members. In the near future, the challenges of home ownership will be less overwhelming for our members and Sears will be the solution.
Arun Arora is the SVP and President of Sears Home Appliances and Home Services