In an effort to make it as convenient as possible for its customers to find and purchase their gift items this holiday season, Sears has launched a new mobile shopping application, called Sears2go. The mobile commerce site allows consumers to find and buy merchandise through a mobile version of the company’s Web site.
Ravi Acharya, Director of eCommerce at Sears Holdings, says the company elected to launch the mobile application after “observing that certain customers were trying to access the website from a mobile device” and weren’t able to perform all of the functions they wanted. “More and more customers are using their mobile phones to shop online and Sears2go is completely geared for mobile devices with an emphasis on speed, usability and security,” Acharya says. “With the popularity of the iPhone and other devices, we are quickly seeing these devices emerge as the only point of contact you need. We want to make use of that trend and create a bridge to our other channels.”
An extension of Sears’ Fusion initiative, which is focused on making it easier for customers shop across channels through buy online, pick up in-store and other convenient services, the Sears2Go mobile commerce web site is the first on-the-go technology offered by a U.S. retailer which pairs mobile commerce with services such as in-store pickup.
Acharya says Sears will be testing different aspects of the mobile commerce site during this holiday season to determine which tools consumer utilize most often as well as how the application influences overall purchases.
To transfer the content and functionality of its online presence to a mobile device, Sears partnered with Usablenet out of New York. Acharya says the transition was fairly seemly and took only two to three months.
Jason Taylor, vice president of mobile products at Usablenet, pointed out that Sears built the Sears2go platform with a long-term view of cross-channel shopping. “It’s a very flexible platform to allow Sears to give access to promotions and product offerings via computer or phone.”
While other retailers have recently targeted mobile devices as a marketing medium, he says Sears now has a competitive edge by putting commerce functionality into consumers’ hands. “The one thing that we’re able to do for our partners is put purchasing on the phone,” says Taylor. “Before we have seen a lot of promotions on phones, but not the execution of purchases. We’re now putting that in the hands of our partners. They can now literally launch a site that offers full purchasing of tens of thousands of SKUs in the case of Sears. It’s integrated with Omniture so from day one they can see all revenues associated with mobile. I think that’s really the key aspect with regard to investing in mobile. You have to see revenue, especially in retail.”
Sears2go will offer much of the information available on Sears’ main website, including access to product reviews, comparisons, ratings, and store locators. The mobile site will only offer some product categories, however, focusing on apparel, electronics and computers, fitness and sports, jewelry, tools, toys and games with home delivery or in store pickup.
After purchasing an item on Sears2go, shoppers picking up their order in store will receive a text message alert when their merchandise is ready for pick-up. The mobile application also allows consumers to mix and match orders, choose different fulfillment options for different products. For example, if one item from a shopping list is available for delivery, but another is not currently in-stock, a text message will alert when the store has the product available.
In addition to researching products and making purchases directly from their mobiles device, Sears2go also allows consumers to opt-in to receive promotions from Sears to right their mobile phones. Users just need to text DEALS to 73277 to receive Sears Deals Alerts.
Acharya says Sears will also be promoting the launch of Sears2go via banner ads on high profile mobile sites through a partnership with AdMob and also doing targeted commuter marketing.