Sears continues to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Sears Roebuck, the embattled retail giant, recently unveiled a new logo designed to broaden its appeal to its core consumers. Unfortunately, what Sears had intended to appear as a combination of home and heart looks amazingly like the Airbnb logo.
We can wonder why no one involved with what was likely an extremely expensive redesign process thought to look and make sure the logo was unique, but there’s a bigger question: Why on earth is Sears redoing its logo now anyway?
The company has been on a downhill slide for a number of years, losing both money and market share since the merger with Kmart 15 years ago. Various strategies to get back on track have failed dismally.
Changing the logo is a typical tactic for companies in trouble. And, typically, it doesn’t work when the organization has the deep-seated problems of a company like Sears.
The sad part is that this didn’t have to happen. Sears had all the right pieces in place to succeed — even to be Amazon — long before Amazon even existed:
- Sears had a physical presence in every community in America.
- It had a direct marketing method (catalogs) that reached most Americans on a regular basis.
- It had the clout and buying power to drive suppliers and brands to come along with them.
- And, most importantly, it had the confidence and trust of their targeted customer base.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Sears was so busy being Sears that the company couldn’t see outside of the box. Even as Amazon began to evolve from an online bookstore to a full service online merchant, and Target and Walmart stole customers with a better value proposition for shoppers, Sears doubled down on its existing strategy.
It was the cornerstone of the American mall and it intended to stay that way — despite the fact that the American mall is now a virtual, online presence.
Where are we today? Amazon has usurped the position of Sears and many other brick-and-mortar retailers. Not only does it offer a selection of goods that can’t be matched by any other retailer, it has thrown in free shipping with Prime, automatic reordering with Dash, grocery deliveries with AmazonFresh, digital content delivery, and additional services introduced on a regular basis.
Amazon didn’t invent the retailing concepts behind these services. The genesis for most of them came from old-school retailers like Sears, J.C. Penney, and even Kmart. Amazon just figured out how to apply those concepts to the 21st-century digital world in a new and better way than anyone else.
And Sears? It is practically on life support as it continues to hemorrhage cash and search for a place to fit in today’s retailing world.
There was a time when people trusted Sears enough to even buy build-it-yourself home kits from the company — selling more than 70,000 home kits between 1908 and 1940. Today, instead of sailing ahead of the competition, Sears appears to be focused on rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But those chairs all have a nice bright new logo.
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