Sears, Roebuck & Co. have been pioneers of the retail business. In fact it could be said they invented it. More than hundred years of history has made their brand known in many different product categories. For decades they have been keeping their slogan “Sears! Where else?”

It used to mean that everything you need could be obtained from a single location. And in addition to the merchandise you can even obtain money to buy it. Sears developed their own private brands such as Kenmore or Craftsman and competed successfully with “true” brands like Levi’s or General Electric.

They used to think they were at the top of it and they had every right to do so. But at one point their size and power turned against them. Whilst tried to be all things to all men they lost their own identity, their true brand and the promise.

Today’s consumers need to have something more, something that can make them feel special. Whenever there’s demand there’s also supply.

Numerous celebrity brands can provide new identity even if it is fake. New generation of retailers with Amazon being most prominent can provide personalised service even if it is fake.

Old-school merchants can also be successful if they act smart. Walmart built their first data warehouse in 1989 and it was the first in the world to reach 1 Terabytes in 1992. Sears could have been woeful competitor with world’s largest customer and order history database but they were several years too late.

Regardless of this we can see that even traditional brick and mortar stores can be successful if they embrace the change, be the leaders. Regardless of size or mission statement the customer should come first. It does not mean that in order the B&M to win the Online needs to lose.

Hughes, A. How Sears Canada Profits from its Customer Database
Kotler, M. What Not to Do - Three Lessons from Sears
Harris, D. Why Apple, eBay, and Walmart have some of the biggest data warehouses you’ve ever seen

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