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Sears eases holiday shopping with integrated approach

Sears recently pledged to ease the holiday hoopla of shopping and shipping for customers by focusing on a customized, integrated retail approach.   

“[It’s] not only shopping on the phone, or on the tablet, or the desktop, or at the store, it’s going through multitudes of experiences,” says Andy Chu, divisional VP of mobile commerce at Sears Holdings Corporation, adding that the retailer doesn’t view channels like mobile in a silo. “We don’t look at the mobile business as a standalone business, but as an integrated experience, because that’s how consumers and our members shop.”

One of the key elements in Sears’ integrated retail approaches is its members reward program, Shop Your Way Rewards. Chu says Sears will be informing its members of exclusive holiday savings, including pre-Black Friday deals, and providing members with coupons that they can access and bring to the store via their mobile devices. Members can either sign up for the free Shop Your Way Rewards membership or pay $79 a year for the new Shop Your Way Max membership, which provides customers with unlimited free two-day shipping. Members can even sample the Max membership with a free 90-day trial.

Sears also has a Shop Your Way app. The app allows customers to search for products, check in at the store, find hidden sales, participate in contests, chat with friends, and share photos. Sears was even named Mobile Commerce Daily’s 2011 mobile retailer of the year.

“We’re continuing to enhance these types of experience across multiple screens and really tying into the store,” Chu says.

Sears has also recently allowed members to put items on layaway in the store and pay off their layaway contract via their mobile device.

Chu says one of customers’ most-utilized features is the Sears Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store option. The feature allows customers to shop for products online or via their mobile devices, see the inventory at a particular store, and pick up a product the same day.

“From our perspective, it’s really focusing on the customer, how they shop, and how they would like to interact with us,” Chu says. “What we’ve been told from our research and talking to our members is [that] they just love the convenience, and they love the fact that it’s saving them on shipping costs, and those are key differentiations.”

However, Sears’ customer focus isn’t leaving its marketers out in the cold this holiday season. Just the opposite. Chu says Sears is enabling its internal marketers to produce integrated marketing pages on its website and is providing its marketers with the opportunity to integrate SMS and push messaging campaigns through Sears’ marketing platform, as well.

As a result, when consumers land on the homepage, they can easily discover new promotions or deals, but Sears’ marketers “don’t have to go through multiple iterations of processes and internal systems. All of that is completely integrated,” Chu says. “So when a marketer does a campaign, they can click a few buttons, change the size of a design, and click submit into our back-end system, and the same experience will show up on the PC desktop, as well as on the phone. It’s about being quick to market, especially in the marketing environment of retail [where] things are moving very, very fast.”

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