Sears Canada wants to drive new business to its Web site by being the online fulfillment arm to vendors who are not large enough for e-commerce.
“There are some suppliers we currently deal with who don't have the ability to deal with an Internet business but have the demand,” said Vince Power, a Sears Canada spokesman.
The expectation is that consumers who visit a brand's Web site and discover that all orders are processed by sears.ca will be encouraged to give Internet shopping a shot.
“Canadians as a whole are not into online shopping as much as their U.S. counterparts,” Power said.
He attributed Canadians' reluctance to shop online to a lack of trust in Internet businesses. However, research shows that Sears is the most trusted company — not just retailer — in Canada, Power said. Once consumers are familiar with the Sears site, they hopefully will return and “significantly boost” Sears' Internet business, he said.
Sears.ca stocks more than 100,000 SKUs and had 33 million visits last year in a country with a population of 31 million.
Sears.ca provides online fulfillment for Roots Canada and Levi's. How does it work? Consumers go to roots.ca or levis.com. When they're ready to buy, they click through to the Roots or Levi's sections on the Sears site. Sears processes the orders and ships them for a percentage of the sale. All transactions come with Sears' satisfaction-guaranteed policy.
Similar arrangements with additional vendors that Sears does business with are expected to be signed this fall. Deals could include a greater variety of a brand's merchandise than is available in Sears' stores or catalogs.
The company already has a well-honed fulfillment system to meet the demands of its own Internet and catalog operations, leaving it well positioned to process the additional orders, Power said. The catalog division, for example, mails a general merchandise book with about 1,200 pages to more than 4.1 million households each January. It also mails about 16 smaller catalogs during the year. All orders can be picked up for free at any of the 2,200 Sears merchandise pickup locations throughout Canada.