Have You Been In A Sears Store Lately? – Exactly.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Former catalog operators such as Canadian Tire and The Bay have failed to make e-commerce sites work in Canada.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.


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