June 23, 2010, 2:13 PM

Sears rolls out a virtual Blue Crew

Sears has launched a web version of its Blue Crew store service concept to enhance interactions with consumers.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Sears Holdings Corp. has united store and web services and resources in one online location to help consumers find products and services and to create opportunities for more personal interaction.

The new web location, titled Blue Crew HQ, provides virtual advisors who describe Sears’ services, such as “Pam The Matchmaker,” who helps match shoppers and products, and “Jill The Night Owl,” who offers 24-hour customer support.

“We wanted to engage consumers who might be in the market for an appliance or perhaps not, but we wanted to start that engagement with ways for individuals to experience Blue Crew,” says Robert Raible, vice president of integrated marketing communications at Sears, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. The new web site, Sears.com/BlueCrewHG, offers a connection to products if shoppers are ready to buy, but it was designed to build a relationship with customers, the retailer says. “It helps us show fun factoids and interesting things that were already on the site,” says Raible”

Digital content on the new site includes TV Matchmaker, which asks questions designed to help shoppers find the right TV; Live Greener, which identifies eco-friendly products and services; and Personal Shopper, which connects customers with a live personal shopper. These tools were previously available on Sears.com, but not always readily found, Raible says. The new Blue Crew HQ site brings them together, along with other content such as videos from YouTube and discussions and other information posted on Sears’ Facebook and Twitter sites, he adds.

Online consumers can connect to a live Blue Crew associate at any time via chat, e-mail or telephone.

The idea for the web-based Blue Crew was developed just over a year ago with input from ad agencies Young & Rubicam and Digital Kitchen. The site was developed in-house by a group that included marketing and information technology, Raible says.

Sears will continue to build out the new site. “Part of our ongoing growth is getting more user-generated content,” Raible says. “We want more sharing and conversations with consumers. We built it to be social in nature.”

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