After announcing yesterday that Sears will close its oldest retail store in the U.S. in the wake of a $1.13 bn loss last year, CEO Eddie Lampert told investors that he intends to return the chain to profitability in five years. Apparently their loyalty program is the problem:
Shop Your Way members sign up to receive coupons, and free shipping, and earn points that can be converted into dollars. Membership also provides access to a “social commerce” community on shopyourway.com that lets shoppers see what merchandise their friends have "liked" or purchased. Sears, in return, receives rich data about these customers that helps it adapt more quickly to serving them.
The program has been Lampert's pet project of the last five years. But after defending it and explaining that building such a platform and changing customers' behavior requires a lot of patience, he admitted what a lot of skeptical observers have long assumed: Shop Your Way just isn't getting people to spend enough money.
He said the platform has an enormous number of registered members, but many of them are not as active as he would like. Three-quarters of Sears' revenue comes from registered Shop Your Way members, but many of them are not frequent buyers.
"Getting people engaged and interested is super-important," he said. "We've built the platform, (but) we've fallen short on getting them engaged. Are we really getting the bulk of their purchases? We want to serve our members deeper. If you shop with us 10 times a year and spend $300, we'd like you to shop 100 times a year and spend $3,000."
NO, you putz, the problem isn't your loyalty platform; it's that you, personally, have spent ten years turning Sears into someplace no one wants to shop. Have you even been inside one of your stores lately?
A few years ago I spent two days inside a Sears store that had been converted into a health-insurance company's head office. I have never worked in a more depressing environment, and I'm including in "never" the time I worked graveyard shifts in a dorm security booth in college.
Eddie, the only way the company can return to profitability in five years is if you terminate retail operations and sell the remaining assets to Seritage. But face it: you killed one of America's greatest brands, all by yourself.