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Sears connects mobile shoppers to stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sears Holding Corp. is trying to turn surging mobile traffic into a driver for store visits and purchases.

Sears has refreshed its mobile app with a number of features that help provide a seamless, store-centric customer experience. For example, members of its Shop Your Way loyalty program who enable location-based services can place mobile orders for out-of-stock items while in the store and get free home shipping.

In addition, mobile loyalty members can schedule curbside pick-up, return or exchange of online purchases at any Sears store with a guarantee of service in five minutes or less, without leaving their vehicle. Shoppers can also initiate a new layaway contract and make all payments via the Sears app. In-store, shoppers can now scan products directly from the app to add to their layaway list.

Sears is also offering contests and e-coupons via the app.

"In 2015 we've seen more than a third of our online traffic come from a mobile phone – a 46 percent increase from last year," said Leena Munjal, senior VP, customer experience & integrated retail, Sears Holdings. "Mobile devices are so much a part of our members' lives and they're not only researching and sharing, they're also buying. So it's more important than ever to have a robust, simple-to-use shopping app with features and services that no other major retailer offers."

Sears has long been a pioneer in offering a seamless customer experience. The retailer launched its first “ready in five” guarantee for five-minute in-store pickup of online purchases in 2005, and added vehicle-based pickup in 2014.

With mobile becoming more of a primary option for consumer web access, Sears is intelligently adding these and other seamless services that blend store and digital to its app. Despite its stodgy reputation and recent lackluster financial performance, Sears has actually always been a leader in omnichannel customer engagement. But if more customers don’t start responding, leadership may not be enough.

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