Sears, the 121 year-old retailer, is making a decidedly modern move by introducing “Connected Solutions” shops within some of its stores to “bring together one of the most authoritative assortments of smart, connected home and personal automation products in the industry,” according to a statement.
Products available from the Connect Solutions stores will include home automation solutions such as thermostats, smart locks, lighting, switches and sensors along with mobile phones, tablets, smart watches, home monitoring cameras, connected baby monitors and fitness products like treadmills, heart rate monitors and connected treadmills.
Claiming to have “knowledgeable associates,” Sears, according to Jim Pearse, vice president of consumer electronics for Sears Holdings, “is uniquely positioned to lead this category.”
One of the products Sears is touting is its Craftsman Assurelink garage door opener which can notify parents by text when the door is open and closed, “providing peace of mind when children come home from school,” according to the company.
In a press release, Sears VP in-store experience and design Craig LaRosa said the new shops will offer “an entertaining and interactive environment to learn about the products and our dedicated sales team is ready to help customers develop solutions that are relevant to them.”
In addition to its retail outlets, Sears also has an online version of its Connected Solutions store.
Too little too late?
In his Forbes post, Why Sears Is The Dying Dinosaur Of Retailing, Walter Loeb commented that “Sears has ignored new trends, has reduced their staples and basics, and has relied on a flawed loyalty program in a flawed attempt to bring customers to the stores.”
But with this move, the sleepy retailer appears to be waking up and taking a bit of a risk by showcasing emerging technologies such as fitness watches and wearable computing devices. It’s a smart move but it may be too little too late. Sears has lost an enormous amount of momentum not only to online giant Amazon.com but even to its brick and mortar competitors like Wal-Mart and Target and of course Apple, which is also a major retailer as well as a consumer electronics store.
It’s perhaps coincidental that Sears’ announcement came out the same day that Apple announced the home automation tools that will be available for its OS 8 developers. Is Sears forward thinking or are both Sears and Apple just catching up with the world many of us already live in?