Sears has never had a reputation with me for being cutting edge. Not in technology. Not in customer experience. Not in branding. I would say their brand has been built around longevity, selection, and providing a "down home" feel that you can't get from a big box store. At least, that's how I have always positioned them... the Sears suits may argue otherwise.
I had the chance to make a purchase online recently at Sears.com. Like many people, buying stuff online has become second nature and it takes a lot to cause me to step back and admire the process. Sears did that to me, and here's how it happened:
- I was in the market for a 19-22" LCD TV for our kitchen. Nothing fancy, just something to catch the news on over breakfast.
- Flipping through the Sunday paper, I saw in the Sears print circular that they had a 19" Sylvania on sale for $200. A good price, so I went online to check it out.
- I added the TV to my cart and opted to pick-up the TV at my local Sears store in order to save on some shipping/handling. I was informed that it would be 5-7 days before it would be ready for pick-up. Cool.
- As am I checking out, Sears asks for my mobile number in order to send me a text alert when the TV is ready for pickup. Again, cool. Yes, Sears now has my mobile number. Do I care? Not really.
- Five days later, I get the text that the TV is ready. I head over to Sears and walk in to the pick-up area. I am immediately greeted by a kiosk that asks me to scan the card I made the purchase with. I do so, and my name and product appear on an LCD screen in the waiting area. A "time waiting" column appears next to my name and starts counting upward. Sears is officially on the clock.
- In exactly five minutes and ten seconds, a clerk brings my TV out to me. He also hands me a discount coupon for a future purchase being that it took longer than five minutes for them to bring out my TV.
- I leave, rethinking my monogamous Best Buy relationship and wanting to go on a second date with Sears.
The convergence of print, mobile, web, and offline customer experience really impressed me. Again, I may have my Sears underwear on too tight, but the entire process placed them near the top of my list for future purchases. They need to do something about Ty Pennington though.