Can Sears’ Shop Your Way Loyalty Program Keep Venerable Retailer Afloat in the Future?

While Sears endured a very challenging 2016, Eddie Lampert, the company’s chairman and CEO remains confident that the venerable brand has what it takes to move forward and positively impact customer engagement and brand loyalty.

In a recent letter to shareholders, Lampert talked about 2016 being “another challenging year” and how Sears is positioned to move forward.

“Sears Holdings is built on a strong foundation that will continue to provide us competitive advantages, as we drive our strategic transformation to become a more innovative and agile retailer,” the letter says. “We have very valuable brands among our assets, including some of the most iconic American brands. We have a large store footprint, dedicated associates, and tens of millions of Shop Your Way members actively shopping with us. We saw the disruption of retail coming more than a decade ago and built a differentiated online shopping and membership platform (Shop Your Way) to ensure our participation in the next wave of retail. All of these assets, whether inherited, acquired or built, are our core strengths. They’re what makes us a competitive retailer today and will continue to do so.”

Lampert has always been very high on the Shop Your Way loyalty program. Member sales penetration for the Sears’ Shop Your Way loyalty program has grown from 58 percent to 75 percent since 2011.

“We have tens of millions of active members accounting for more than 70 percent of our sales today and they are at the heart of everything we do,” the letter adds. “While, as associates, you are responsible for delivering them the best services and experiences, you are also our members. And as our members, we want to you to engage more in Shop Your Way and provide you with greater benefits from your purchases. In bringing this to life, we enhanced our Associate Discount Program this year to deliver Shop Your Way points back on purchases in addition to new increased benefit for purchases of hardline goods and any other Shop Your Way program points and perks. This new program, which is available for all active Sears Holdings associates, spouses, and eligible dependents, enhances the benefits associates and their families can receive using the Shop Your Way ecosystem.”

Importantly, Lampert notes, “we also have what it takes to move us forward. We are in a financial position to continue to fund our operating needs and meet our financial obligations. We also have untapped opportunities to maximize the value of our existing assets, create additional financial flexibility and expand our Shop Your Way ecosystem to drive our future growth.”

Lampert specifically cited the following:

In 2016, Sears expanded the Shop Your Way network to include more partners and deepen relationships to make Shop Your Way ‘the’ go-to rewards destination.

Launched a new Sears Mastercard with an industry-leading 5-3-2-1 Shop Your Way rewards offer that allows members to earn Shop Your Way points everywhere they shop.

Sears also announced a strategic partnership with Activehours to integrate the Shop Your Way rewards program into the Activehours mobile application to allow them to access their paychecks on demand;

The broadened its Uber Technologies partnership rider rewards program to 25 new markets, building on the successful launch in New York City and Chicago.

Expanded the Shop Your Way dining program to more than 30,000 restaurants, including Burger King, Popeye’s, Shoney’s, and with unique rewards.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $6.1 billion, compared to $7.3 billion for the same period last year. The decline was primarily attributable to having fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation.

At Kmart, comparable store sales decreased 8.0 percent during the fourth quarter.

For the full year, revenue was $22.1 billion compared to $25.1 billion the previous year.

For the full year, comparable store sales declined 7.4 percent; Kmart comparable store sales declined 5.3 percent.

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