Marketing Management

Sears Holding Corporation was recently searching for ways to revitalize its Sears stores and Kmart stores. Among its objectives were finding fresh ways to sell Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools in an age of smart phones and social networking sites. Many years ago, shoppers would place orders using the venerable Sears catalog and then pick up their orders at a nearby Sears store. Sears Holding assembled a team of 180 e-commerce specialists to find fresh, online, and smart-phone ways of selling its products. The new marketing strategy is dubbed, “Shop Your Way.” Management at Sears Holding presents MyGofer, one component of the strategy, as a fundamental change in the way a retail store operates. The new marketing experiment to supplement traditional store shopping is for customers to place orders on MyGofer.com and then visit a nearby store and pick up their merchandise. The customer swipes a credit card at a kiosk and then waits while employees, who wear uniforms resembling fast-service food servers, bring out the merchandise. The MyGofer experiment began with a single pickup center in Joliet, Illinois, at a converted Kmart store. Consumers seemed to react positively to the new shopping method, according to Imran Jooma, a vice president of e-commerce for Sears Holding. Part of the experiment included the old-fashioned layaway program, which helped boost holiday sales during its first trial period. Online business for Sears has been increasing steadily, while in-store sales have been declining steadily. The MyGofer program is part of the marketing strategy of Sears Holding chairman Edward S. Lampert, who has tried to stop the sales decline ever since he merged Sears with Kmart in 2005. Lampert and his advisors thought there would be a bigger payoff in Web ventures, which they preferred to heavy investment in refurbishing existing Sears and Kmart stores. Another Internet marketing initiative is an iPhone app called Sears Personal Shopper, which enables shoppers to photograph products they might want, such as someone else’s handbag or mountain climbing shoes. The person who took the photo sends the images to workers who can track them down at Sears or Kmart and offer them for sale. Sears Holding has also established two social networking sites, MySears.com and MyKmart.com, that also function as online shopping sites.

1. How effective do you think MyGofer will be as a retail venture?

2. In what way is Sears Holding a combination of the old economy and the new economy?

3. What advice can you offer Sears to make My Gofer even more successful?

4. How is MyGofer doing recently?

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