Ryan Ciovacco recently met with Sears Holdings associates in an informal session to share how his team is working to evolve Consumer Electronics and support the rollout of the Connected Solutions assortment to 200 Sears and 300 Kmart stores in 2015.
After speaking, he spent some time answering the following questions from associates:
What brought you to Sears Holdings?
Well, it’s been an interesting path that led me here. I’m originally from upstate New York and attended the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. After five years and four deployments to the Middle East, I decided it was time for a change of pace and went back to college to get my MBA from Columbia Business School, after which I started working at Amazon. While I was there, I led a few different retail categories in home improvement, one of them being home automation, connected home and wearable technology. That’s the story of how I landed at Sears Holdings and I’m very excited to be here leading this important category to support the company’s transformation.
How is Consumer Electronics evolving at SHC this year?
Much like my beloved New York Yankees, 2015 is what I would call a “rebuilding” year for us in Consumer Electronics. It’s really about getting the business back to a more sustainable level that it hasn’t seen in the last few years. We have too much space and need more of the products that people want. To solve for this, we’re transforming our business from a traditional “buy & sell” retailer to a partnership/integrated retail-focused model that builds member relationships with minimal store presence. Of course, there’s also Connected Solutions, which really underscores the transformation of Consumer Electronics from a traditional electronics retailer to one that sells connected items that integrate with the connected lifestyles of our members.
Why does “connected” matter?
There will be approximately 20 billion connected devices globally by 20201 and Sears is the only retailer that currently has a presence in all categories. Connected is about the fundamental change in the way we live our lives. How many times have you left your house and wondered, “Did I close the garage door?” Or, you’re at work and realize you left the kitchen lights on at home? The connected solution for these everyday problems are not yet mainstream and are still considered early-adopter technology. Many people focus on the “cool factor” but the reality is that these connected products offer a high level of value – they save you time and money and offer peace-of-mind and convenience. The selling point is the impact it can have on your life and for us; the key is helping members understand how these products can do that. That’s why we’re introducing 200 Sears and 300 Kmart Connected Solutions assortment locations in 2015.
How are you demonstrating the ability for these connected products to work together?
In San Bruno, California, we’re working on a 4,000 square-foot model of a home to show our customers and members how these products work together. This is a huge area that isn’t done well by other retailers, in my opinion. Our members need to understand how the products connect and work together, and what they need for everything to work in their home. The models we’re building will do just that and we’re looking forward to educating customers and members alike about the possibilities of creating a connected life that can offer so much value and an even greater return.
Ryan Ciovacco is the President of Consumer Electronics and Connected Solutions at Sears Holdings.