As a 128 year old company, Sears has been a part of American life for generations. With the Sears Catalog, it was the nation’s pioneer in providing what we call today an integrated marketplace for everything from automobiles to fine china. But the retail landscape has changed significantly over the past decade. We are proud of our legacy but we also recognize the need to adapt, innovate and transform.
Like many other things that have been impacted by emerging and mobile technologies, customers’ shopping behavior has dramatically changed in the past few years as well. Customers are more informed than ever. Access to product information is easy, comparing prices across retailers is a few clicks away and, researching products – and using that knowledge to influence their purchases – has become the norm. Mobile phones have made it even easier to get access to this information at the point of purchase.
We saw this shift early on and understood how these changes could impact a traditional business model. That’s why we have been so focused on Integrated Retail, which means leveraging our strengths – our associates, physical stores, online and mobile capabilities, the Shop Your Way membership program, and a robust supply chain – to provide our members with the ease of shopping online and the physical aspect of shopping in store.
Retail is a competitive business, impacted even more so by online-only retailers that don’t have fixed costs like traditional brick and mortar retailers do. They also have lot more flexibility with technology investments that enable them to execute a very dynamic business model without the constraints and challenges of legacy systems.
We don’t think in terms of store investments versus online investments because in many ways one complements the other. Rather, investing in online allows us to bring those digital capabilities into our stores, and investing in our stores makes inventory and fulfillment options available to our members online. Our online and mobile investments are part of the shopping eco-system, with Shop Your Way at the core of the transformation.
Transforming Sears Holdings from a company focused on running stores and selling products to a company focused on serving members across any channel (stores, online, mobile) is not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. It’s also a challenge that many of us at Sears Holdings have taken upon ourselves and are excited to tackle.
I am fortunate to work every day with a talented team that is creative, passionate and determined to figure out ways to provide our members with the best possible integrated retail experience in our stores. We have built or enhanced capabilities such as:
- Buy online pick up in store;
- Order in store and have it shipped to your home;
- Return or exchange online and complete in store in less than 5 minutes;
- And most recently, in-vehicle pickup which allows members to notify us when they have arrived in our stores through the Shop Your Way app, and wait in their vehicle while an associate brings them their purchased items.
We have lot more work to do but we are encouraged to see the growth in areas where we are investing.
I look forward to sharing more with you as we build these capabilities. Our focus has been, and continues to be on what matters the most – innovating around our members and our customers.
Leena Munjal is SVP of Member Experience and Integrated Retail.