In February, Edward Lampert became the Chief Executive of Sears Holdings Corporation. Prior to taking this position, he was their longtime chairman and the founder of the large hedge fund, which is the largest investor in the company itself. Over the recent years, the department store, Sears, is one of the many retail stores who have been experiencing a decrease in profits. When Lampert took the position, he mentioned his plans to increase sales and customer visits. He plans included changing the company by accommodating to “hyper-connected shoppers with tablets and mobile phones.”
The first change included giving iPads to the employees. The company is in the process of developing an app that would allow their customers to ask the employees questions directly through the text or instant messages. The second service added include allowing third parties to sell their products on their online website, otherwise known as Marketplace, which is similar to Amazon. They also reduced the shipping times for online and ship-to-store orders. Lastly, Sears created their “Shop Your Way,” program where they are able to track how their customers’ shopping patterns.
Even with these added services, Sears, unfortunately, still reported a loss of $279 million dollars in the last quarter. This caused their shares to decrease by 14%. Some of the reasons that may relate to this loss include:
- In 2012, Sears’s investments in upgrading the company are far less than other retail stores.
- Sears is “behind in terms of their technology.”
- Sears is unsure of what they can use their available space for.
- Lack of interest from consumers.
The article mentioned Warren Tracy, CEO of Almost There! Inc. and his experience with Sears’ technology. He said that it took him about five months trying to become a third party seller on their website. During this process, he faced many complications and delays. Technology is an important part of Operations Management as it impacts performance directly. More importantly, technology is needed and used in all stages of management. Poor technology will lead to poor management, which will lead to poor performance. Therefore, the company will suffer as a whole.
Overall, it seems like Sears’ plan of creating a shopping experience that accommodates hyper-connected shoppers didn’t work out like planned. Even Mr. Lampert said that the company’s results for the first fiscal quarter were unacceptable. On the brighter side, I look forward to the new app Sears is developing in hopes of making my shopping experience faster and easier.
Do you think that Sears is heading in the right direction to repair their lack of sales? What changes will you implement if you were able to decide? Have you shopped at Sears recently? If so, did you notice these changes? If not, did these changes capture your interest and convince you to shop there more often?
The Wall Street Journal
“At Sears, CEO’s Tech Focus Hasn’t Led to a Turnaround”
Kapner, Suzanne. Wall Street Journal (Online) [New York, N.Y] 28 May 2013
6 thoughts on “Sears’ CEO Plan For Turnaround”
Sears has been lagging in sales for a long time and many analysts and experts believe it is because of the lack of investment in the physical stores themselves. This posts mentions Eddie Lampert the new CEO who made his first big mark with Autozone and their turnaround however many think he cannot do the same with Sears because a Sears or Kmart shopper cares more about the shopping experience and the aesthetics of the store. All of the new initiatives mentioned are all online and have Sears competing with giants like Amazon and other technology firms. This is an uphill battle that Sears faces and it might be difficult to compete and return to profitability.
This seems to be a really hard problem to solve. We’ve seen many legacy companies struggle to come into the new millennium like Motorola, Circuit City, and Blockbuster. Sears is no exception. My initial reaction was, ‘they should be more like Amazon’, and I think that is a very typical reaction today. However, I think the problem is more complex.
Sears started out as a catalog company, as they grew they expanded their stores to ‘reach more people’; the primary concept being that more people were willing to shop in person then through the mail. Today it is vastly different, most consumers are perfectly willing to shop from home over the internet. Sears has a huge portfolio of primary retail real estate which it cannot liquidate (the market is still down), so they are stuck. I think the CEO is saying the only thing that is reasonable during this time in history, ‘I can’t get rid of the stores, so I’ll try to use them as best as we can’. Will the effort be enough? Time will tell…
You can take a catalog company and turn it into a successful retail chain, but you can’t take bricks and put them in the mail.
It’s good to see that Sears is actually trying to turn their number around. I do think the technology upgrades they are doing may be too late. This sort of plan may have worked better if it was four years ago or so. Technology moves at such a fast pace, stores like Sears really need to plan according to keep up with technological advances.
Sears is such a big company that has been around for a number of years. They had so much power at one time, not to mention being a home grown business created right in Chicago, that the tallest building in Chicago was named after this company. Yet, lately Sears hasn’t been doing to hot. There numbers are down and their laying off employees. I feel that all these comments are saying great things and this post does a good job discussing the predicaments of Sears. Yet, Sears has found a way to slowly come back from what they were doing wrong and I feel that the CEO of Sears is doing the right thing. As for those changes, I have not noticed them as much, but I do believe from reading this article, that their sales have improved and they have found a way to get back into the market.
Sears need to invest more on changing the quality of products rather than wasting money on “iPads” for say. I recently have shopped there, and the use of iPads slowed down the transaction process. Yes, its fancier and more technologically advanced but it is inconvenient for customers. I was amazed at how transactions were being run through the iPad, but there were so many glitches that it took longer than it would have with a register. I can easily see people getting frustrated waiting in lines because the iPads are slowing down the process. Yes, technology is a huge part of operations management; but I believe that Sears needs to market and advertise themselves better. They need to bring the customers in somehow and that should be their biggest concern.
Sears has been around forever, and even though everyone knows about it not many people actually shop there. The physical appearance of the store sure has its negatives, but I also believe that one thing Sears should really consider is changing their name, and logo. Being in the 21 century the lettering seems very outdated. By changing the font style and making it more modern, I think sears might attract some customers as well. Along with that they can do some remodeling which will change the overall image of the company, and together it might actually bring results.