May 8, 2012, 12:27 PM

Sears adds another local dimension to e-commerce

SearsLocalAd.com shows availability and pricing at nearby stores.

Lead Photo

Imran Jooma

Sears Holdings Corp. has launched SearsLocalAd.com, designed to give online consumers insight into what’s available and what’s on sale at their local Sears store. The tool includes sale information beyond what’s advertised in print circulars or on Sears.com.

Sears pinpoints the location of visitors to SearsLocalAd.com and assigns them to the nearest Sears store location;Sears says if it doesn’t already know the ZIP code of the visitor (such as from when the visitor entered it on a previous visit), then the chain uses the consumer’s IP data to determine location. A consumer is routed to a web page within the Sears.com domain that shows her the prices and special offers available at her local store. Product pages also show the shopper how much of each product is currently in stock at her nearby store. Consumers who access Sears.com through SearsLocalAd.com can complete purchases online but must pick up most products at the local store.

Last year, the retail chain launched a digital ad tool that enabled consumers on its e-commerce site to find deals and prices for merchandise in nearby Sears and Kmart stores. SearsLocalAd.com expands on that tool and is available nationally, a Sears spokesman says. He says customer feedback on that tool led the company to make changes it incorporated into SearsLocalAd.com, such as increasing the number of store-level offers included in each local ad and the ability to send shopping lists to mobile devices and social media sites.

“Giving our customers new services and conveniences like a real-time window into the selection and savings specific to their nearby store is a great example of how the future of integrated shopping is here today at Sears,” says Imran Jooma, senior vice president and president, online, marketing, financial services and pricing business units at Sears Holdings.

In some cases, however, prices at local stores don’t match the sales price available on Sears.com. A pair of earrings promoted via SearsLocalAd.com for a store location in Chicago priced the earrings at $199.99. The same pair of earrings available on Sears.com cost $159.99. Prices may fluctuate based on inventory levels at particular stores, the spokesman says.

Promoted items also vary by store. For example, the Chicago store listed promotions for 10 products in the fitness and sports category. A store in Seattle listed 44 products for the same category. Sears says offers are managed centrally by a proprietary in-house system, down to the store level. “The big win for the shopper here is visibility to hundreds of additional local deals beyond the weekly Sears print circular or Sears.com,” the spokesman says.

Product pages accessed via SearsLocalAd.com include many of the same features as product pages on Sears.com, including product ratings and reviews and the ability to create a shopping list for use when shopping in a Sears store. The ability to share a specific item via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Sears’ Shopyourway.com loyalty program is only available to shoppers using SearsLocalAd.com.

Sears is No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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