Sears customers no longer have to leave their cars to make returns and exchanges to the company’s brick-and-mortar stores.
The company has integrated its website, mobile app, and physical store to guarantee a less-than-five minutes’ wait for time-strapped customers. To use the new feature, customers visit Sears.com to identify the item they’d like to return and select new merchandise for exchange. They then wait for a confirmation e-mail telling them their item is ready for pickup. Customers park in designated in-vehicle spots and use the Shop Your Way app to let sales associates know they’ve arrived. Activating the curbside pickup feature in Shop Your Way starts an in-app timer, and customers are guaranteed service within five minutes.
Customers have been able to use Shop Your Way curbside service to pick up online orders since the beginning of the year. By adding returns and exchanges to the feature, the company hopes to further reduce friction between online and in-store shopping.
“We’re all living busy, on-the-go lives, and this latest expansion to Sears integrated retail conveniences means that you can spend less time making a return or exchange and more time shopping,” said Leena Munjal, senior vice president of Sears Holdings, in a prepared statement.
But will keeping customers in their cars solve Sears’s financial woes? The company’s stock is down, and it recently received a $400 million loan from its own chief executive. The struggling company reported a second quarter loss of $573 million.
The one bright spot on Sears’ horizon is the company’s Shop Your Way app. Sears recently received “genius status” for its work in the digital space by research firm L2. While in-store sales plummet, efforts to drive growth through Shop Your Way has driven an 18 percent year-over-year online sales increase.
Thomas Mueller, chief experience officer at Siegel+Gale, says that creating a less stressful retail environment could be the key to bringing loyal customers back to the store.
“Retail stores can be high-stress environments, where availability of staff and changing rooms can cause customer anxiety. This app could help Sears differentiate from competitors such as Marshalls, Target, and Walmart and bring consumers back in,” Mueller says.
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