Sears debuted a line of private labeled smart home products last week, including a water heater retrofit module and a connected riding mower.
Our Take: Like many brick and mortar retailers, Sears is struggling in the age of Amazon and Costco. Also like many others, the iconic retailer is beginning to turn to connected devices as one way to possibly reinvent itself.
Sears has always derived a significant amount of its business from its own private label brands such as Kenmore and Craftsman, and given the retailer’s historically strong market share in its core markets (like tools) it’s worth noting the move. While the company has yet to announce any connected kitchen appliances, we think doing so would be an interesting move since Kenmore appliances appeal to middle and modest income households and could help mainstream the connected white goods category.
Bottom line, Sears may also want to rethink attention to its traditional sales floor plans and formats in its effort to sell connected devices. Its customers are generally middle to late stage adopters, so it would benefit them to show product benefits through in-store experiential retail formats. I’ve written a lot about how it often takes a new approach to selling products in the era of IoT, one that focuses on experiential retail and possibly even entirely new models like that from B8ta. While Sears may have a hard time remaking themselves overnight, they could at the very least begin to experiment with lab-style offshoots like B8ta or Target’s Open House in San Francisco.