By Cyndi Pyburn 

Every spring, I get the urge to clean, purge, tidy, simplify and most importantly, undertake a decorating refresh project in my home. Over the years, trends and my personal tastes change and a regular review of my home is not just enjoyable, but also necessary. Without this review, things can become dated, stale, and dull, cue the need for new lighting in my powder room! This type of regular review is no different for brands as they too need to avoid being seen as dated and dull. Indeed, a sizeable brand in Canada is doing exactly this…Sears Canada 2.0.

On the Sears Canada website, I read this lofty declaration:

“Reinvention requires constant change and we, at Sears Canada, are making significant changes to our company. We are reinventing from the ground up. Literally. Brick by brick. Byte by byte. As Sears Canada reinvents its brand, its product and its stores, it is also reinventing its culture. We are reinventing our customer experience to WOW each and every customer across all our touch points and that can’t happen without reinventing our culture.”

I was impressed. I wondered what Sears was doing to refresh its brand and image so I did a little digging. In order to win in a competitive, global marketplace, 2017 marks Sears’ entry into the:

  1. Fast-fashion landscape: Not known for catering to young women who have so many retail choices, the ‘S’ label seeks to target a fresh audience of women from their teens to early 20s.
  2. Off-price business model: This model offers brand name products at a lower price point. ‘The Cut’, provides “of the moment” products at a higher turnover rate than Sears’ traditional commodities.
  3. Private label business: Sears will now focus on one solid private label offering that’s about quality basics – including T-shirts, jackets, and yoga apparel – with a high quality, low price value proposition. Private label currently represents about 30% of Sears Canada assortment but the plan is to increase it to 50% or more by this fall.

This renewed strategy is more clear and focused, and it embraces innovation and change. The improved merchandising strategy can adapt quickly to competitor pricing. The new optimized pricing strategy based on research seeks to entice 75% of all shoppers to consider buying its products. To help with this pricing strategy, Sears will have to rely on its suppliers to determine what that optimal retail price should be. For each of these strategies, the focus is now on what the consumer wants and how best to cater to that.

Turning attention to the store itself, flexibility has been built into the store’s design as few of the fixtures are permanent. Fixtures can be moved around the store to increase the focus and space for one product or category – or alternatively, take it away from another – based on things like consumer insights, sales results, or business priorities. From the consumer experience perspective, the primary goals of easing navigation and shopping are better met by flexible fixtures. With few walls, nearly all the fixtures and shelving serve as frames, helping to give a clear line of site from one side of the store to the other and making each department easy to find.

Sears is actively planning for change and is now putting marketing weight behind these initiatives, hoping to turn its declining sales around. Centred on the hashtag “#weveCHANGED,” the brand has launched a marketing campaign and opened a pop-up shop in downtown Toronto to bring attention to its new product lines, largely aimed at a younger demographic. The skeptics are being converted as Same Stores Sales have grown.

This new path for Sears seems to be better, more strategic. I, for one, hope that their reinvention endeavour is successful.