Author Topic: Sears in an alternative universe  (Read 99 times)

littleman

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Sears in an alternative universe
« on: October 16, 2018, 02:34:25 AM »
I remember thinking in 1993 that it was a mistake for Sears to discontinue its catalog.  In 1995 eBay and Amazon both launched.  I remember thinking around that time that they should bring their catalog back and put it on the web.  Sears really could have been a (maybe THE) dominant player if they just had more persistence and vision.

From fortune.com back in 2012:
Quote
Sears, which opened for business in the late 19th century, called itself “The Cheapest Supply House on Earth,” and, in its heyday, dominated home delivery with 75 million catalogs distributed each year[!], bringing goods to far flung farms, towns and other locations. But today’s customer, who can browse the Sears website but not order from its catalog service, which was dropped in the early 1990s, is likely to be ordering from Amazon’s marketplace instead.

“Amazon is the new Sears,” says Robert Spector, a retail historian who wrote Amazon.com: Get Big Fast, and other books on retailers. “It’s also the new Walmart, the new Barnes & Noble and the new Best Buy.”

Sears (shld, -17.69%) has not retooled its venerable brand for the technology age, which was underscored this past holiday season when retail sales rose, and Internet sales soared, but the venerable store racked up such poor sales that it announced that it will close 120 stores, and projected that its earnings are likely to sink more than 50% for the most recent three months — usually the time of the year that retailers rake in their biggest revenues.

Sears, says Spector, “tried to hold onto what they were rather than trying to invent themselves. Like Kodak, Sears did not leap forward when it needed to do so.”


Mackin USA

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2018, 09:42:13 AM »
>> it was a mistake for Sears to discontinue its catalog.

100% AGREE
Mr. Mackin

rcjordan

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2018, 12:18:44 PM »
Sears didn't die, it was killed.  The current owner, Lampert, has systematically sold off or re-positioned assets (leaseholds) for a decade or more. 

Here's a short article from 18 months ago.

https://nypost.com/2017/04/22/sears-owner-has-milked-iconic-retailer-dry-analysts-say/

Brad

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2018, 01:04:46 PM »
Agree on the catalog.  Big mistake.

I'll miss J. C. Higgins.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._C._Higgins


rcjordan

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2018, 01:12:25 PM »
>catalog

You're clinging to nostalgia.  This is the age where Travoli walked around Yellow Page tomes rotting on his front porch.

Mackin USA

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2018, 01:56:22 PM »
Don't take that away...
Mr. Mackin

Brad

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2018, 02:56:16 PM »
>catalog

Well yes the catalog alone would not have saved them.  But when they gave up the catalog, they gave up the infrastructure to ship direct to the customer which would have been useful when Amazon came along later.

Sears had a lot of short sighted leadership, bad decisions and later people just intent on milking the carcass.

rcjordan

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2018, 03:42:38 PM »
Sears aside because it was deliberately plundered & gutted from the inside, businesses die because they continue doing what they know how to do --what was successful and kept them alive in the past.  There's also the burden of keeping those pesky, yammering stockholders happy.  It's a lack of vision, yes, but that's not all that's baked into their decline.  See GE.

I've mentioned it here before but I was really, really impressed with Gates when he pivoted MS when Netscape showed the -then- bleeding edge of the internet.  It doesn't happen often.
 

ergophobe

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2018, 05:00:02 PM »
My order and subsequent followup recently with Sears Parts Direct is, hands down, the worst online customer service experience I have ever had.

In addition to moving the catalog online, Sears would have had to recognize that the standards for service had changed and they needed to overhaul everything. I think that would have been harder for them than moving online. Maybe their service is so bad because of lack of resources, but the two people I talked to really didn't understand what service was and why I was upset. It was astounding.

At one point in the conversation with the manager at Sears, I found myself saying: "Look, I do some reputation management for a medium-size hotel. We p##s customers off a lot. We drop a lot of balls. Our service isn't what it should be. But our Yelp! rating is 4.7. Your Yelp! rating is 1.0. Are you not ashamed to be managing a service that gets a 1.0 on Yelp?"

He was completely unapologetic. Completely didn't understand my complaints, which were identical to most of the one-star reviews on Yelp

https://www.yelp.com/biz/sears-parts-direct-mobile

DrCool

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2018, 06:42:08 PM »
>>Sears Parts Direct

That is one part of the company that is actually doing well. Parts Direct lives in the Home Services division of the company and that department will most likely be sold off as it is one of the only valuable parts of the company.

ergophobe

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2018, 07:38:14 PM »
>>Sears Parts Direct

That is one part of the company that is actually doing well.

Astounding. Surely that is due to lack of competition for many specialty parts or something. A truly horrible experience in anti-patterns and dark patterns.

Brad

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Re: Sears in an alternative universe
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2018, 09:00:16 PM »
I think it's the Home Services Div. as a whole.  I might be wrong, but I think this is the appliance repair guys.  Around here, my neighbors give them good marks.  They work on any brand.  No mention of Sears on their trucks.