I read an interesting story this week on Sears Canada’s efforts to launch an “endless aisle” e-commerce site to boost its business results at its slow-dying retail stores.
As much as the Sears Canada team seems upbeat about the project’s prospects (existing catalog expertise and US experience) here are just a few of the reasons why I think that this effort will fail:
- Remote Canada (once a huge market for Sears catalog operations) is now being served better by other bricks and mortar retailers such as Wal-mart who provide immediate purchase and lower prices than Sears.
- Although Amazon.ca has not made a push outside of Books/DVDs/CDs in Canada – expect them to do so if Sears.ca gains any traction. Sears better be ready to play with the pros.
- Specialty retailers such as Home Depot, Future Shop, The Brick and Canadian Tire have eroded market share from Sears in key categories such as Tools, Appliances / Electronics, Furniture / Bedding and Auto Parts.
- Former catalog operators such as Canadian Tire and The Bay have failed to make e-commerce sites work in Canada.
- Remember the Sears Wish Book? I think that I am part of the last generation that wrote my letter to Santa while flipping through its pages. That was 25 years ago – a big generational gap in recruiting new shoppers to the brand.
- Most importantly – after years of neglect, the Sears brand is no longer relevant to Canadians, especially to the “internet set”. A visit to any Sears store should easily convince any skeptics.
Add to this the fact that any shopper buying from the e-commerce site will not be a shopper visiting the already practically abandoned Sears retail stores.
Whether this new e-commerce initiative works or fails – expect to see big cuts to the Sears bricks and mortar network.
Read the full article in the Globe & Mail here.