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Faced with slowing sales and increased competition, Sears has plans to close more than 200 Sears and Kmart locations in 2017. However, there is one concept store, encompassed within the Sears brand, that is currently exceeding performance expectations by scoring a big hit with consumers: a showcase store for appliances and mattresses.

To compete better in the changing retail market, Sears has sought to focus on the sales of appliances and mattresses, which currently represent the retailer’s strongest two categories. Thus far, online retailers such as Amazon have struggled to find a way to compete for these lines of business. Consumers continue to value the ability to interact with and test-drive large items such as these before committing to a purchase.

Buoyed by the success of these two lines, Sears recently opened its second appliance concept store. The new facility is a 20,000-square-foot location, where customers can compare the top 10 appliance brands, interact with a full-scale interactive kitchen displays, and easily order new appliances and other products for the home. The second store also features a mattress section where customers can test out mattresses from all of the top brands, as well as purchase pillows and bedding.

With these “try it before you buy it” concept stores, Sears affords consumers the ability to rest easy about their purchase, and it still grants the retailer a means to operate smaller locations that facilitate electronic orders, which can be shipped to the consumer directly from a distribution warehouse. For Sears, this concept may just be the solution it needs to stay relevant and solvent in the years to come.

Discussion Questions: 

  1. Why is Sears experimenting with limited category stores?
  2. Do you believe this is a good strategy for Sears? Good enough to save to chain?

Source: Tom Ryan, Retail Wire, June 26, 2017