Sears Looks to Concept Stores to Help Ignite Customer Engagement

As fiscal matters continue to permeate Sears Holdings Corporation−its third-quarter sales of $3.7 billion were significantly less than the $5 billion in the same period a year ago−company officials hope they can build on the success of dedicated concept stores opened earlier this year in Colorado and Texas and drive customer loyalty.

“We recently opened two new Sears Appliances & Mattress stores in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, and Honolulu, Hawaii,” Sears Holdings Chief Financial Officer Rob Riecker said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. “This unique retail concept leverages technologies to showcase two of our company’s strongest categories, appliances and mattresses, while continuing to offer the expertise and capability of our leading integrated services.”

Riecker said company officials remain focused on streamlining operations, right-sizing the store footprint, reducing operating expenses, and taking incremental actions to improve their financial performance despite a challenging retail environment.

Company officials believe that strategic store closures are critical to becoming a more competitive, efficient, and agile retailer moving forward.

The Sears Shop Your Way loyalty program has been a major focus for the company in recent years, and something Riecker noted in relation to the devastating hurricanes across the Gulf Coast and Putero Rico in the fall.

“We also leveraged our popular Shop Your Way membership platform to further help and serve our members during this difficult time,” Riecker said. “The company quickly established store and region pages on our that provided members with information on when and where they’d be able to purchase critical rebuilding supplies. Moreover, our Shop Your Way member services team made personal phone calls to hundreds of members in devastated areas across the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico to offer Sears Holdings’ support and assistance, where possible. The actions taken by our dedicated Shop Your Way team in the wake of the hurricanes are a clear demonstration of Sears Holdings’ commitment to serving our members. Our hearts and thoughts remain with those that were impacted by the devastating events and we will continue to work hard to serve and support our affected members and communities.”

From an operational perspective, Riecker added: “We are increasingly focused on our transformation toward becoming a member-centric, integrated retailer and finding new ways to engage and better serve our members.”

Earlier this year in a letter to shareholders, Sears president and CEO Eddie Lampert said that member sales penetration for the Sears’ Shop Your Way loyalty program grew 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,” Lampert said in March.

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