Sears has fallen on hard times in part because e-commerce has taken market share from the department store chain, but now the company is looking to use the growth in online shopping to its advantage. Sears announced last week that it will begin selling Alexa-enabled Kenmore appliances on Amazon.com. Sears CEO Eddie Lampert was hopeful about the move, stating that it would “significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.”
Total Retail’s Take: If you can't beat ’em, join ’em. That appears to be the approach that Sears has resigned itself to. Sears had 3,500 brick-and-mortar store locations as recently as 2011. Today, the department store has just 651 locations. Sears needs to make changes in order to survive, and choosing to sell on the leading online marketplace is a step in that direction. Although this may not be Sears’ saving grace (i.e., a profit-driving initiative), the move is sure to bump sales (at least in the short term) and put the retailer in a better position to succeed in a connected devices future.
“In the past, Sears has divested brands because it wasn't able to nurture them or get the proper value out of them internally,” Greg Portell, lead partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney said. “But in this case, it's using Kenmore as an asset, because it clearly has a value that stretches beyond simply being an appliance. This is a really smart way for Sears to think about it.”