TECHNOLOGY

Online giant in deal with unlikely retail partner

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is staking a claim in the appliance market in a big way in a partnership with Sears Holdings.

The embattled retailer announced it will sell its prized Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon. The deal opens the way for the broadest distribution to date of Kenmore products outside of Sears stores and its websites. Distribution will be nationwide, and Sears Home Services and Innovel Solutions units will provide delivery, installation, and other services.

"We continuously look for opportunities to enhance the reach of our iconic brands to more customers and create additional value from our assets," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. "The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S."

As an added feature, Sears will sync its full line of Kenmore Smart appliances with Amazon's Alexa. The integration means that customers will able to control the appliances with a voice command.

"The connection to Alexa gives Sears the ability to get into the IoT (Internet of Things) market without having to build their own capabilities," commented Greg Portell, lead partner in the retail practice of global strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. "Sears gets to take a premiere technology and integrate it into their products as part of this deal, which is a great way to move forward.”(For more commentary, click here.)

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Sears’ alliance with Amazon is its latest move to remain competitive as more players, such as Best Buy and Lowe’s, among others, continue to crowd the marketplace, stealing more share from the appliance category.

In another proactive move to take back those category sales, Sears recently introduced a new store concept that caters specifically to the appliance category. Located in Pharr, Texas, the new Sears Appliances & Mattresses stores features interactive displays of top home appliances brands in kitchen vignettes.

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