In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The retail chain launches Fulfilled by Sears, through which other retailers ship orders.
Sears Holdings Corp. is rolling out Fulfilled by Sears. The service enables other retailers to fulfill online and offline orders in the United States through Sears’ warehouses and stores, says Imran Jooma, the retail chain’s corporate executive vice president and president of online, marketing, pricing and financial services.
Fulfilled by Sears is available to retailers who sell through the Sears.com marketplace, but Sears marketplace sellers can also use it to fulfill orders they receive through other e-commerce sites or bricks-and-mortar stores, Jooma says. “We have the ability to ship orders much faster and more cost-effectively than other sellers do based on our national footprint of stores and warehouses,” he says.
The Sears program will compete against the Fulfillment by Amazon service from Amazon.com Inc., which also delivers parcels on behalf of retailers who sell through the Amazon.com marketplace as well as through other e-commerce sites. Jooma declines to comment on Fulfillment by Amazon, but notes that Sears intends to be competitive in its fulfillment program pricing.
Sears, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, says Fulfilled by Sears is a pay-as-you-go service, so retailers pay no fees unless they have products stored in Sears distribution centers for fulfilling orders. For merchants that sell on the Sears.com marketplace, the retail chain charges storage fees ranging from 45 cents to 60 cents per cubic foot; pick and pack fees of $1 per item; a weight-handling fee of 35 cents per pound. In addition, marketplace sellers pay a monthly Sell on Sears fee of $39.99 plus a commission on sales, which Sears did not detail.
For orders processed outside of Sears.com, the Fulfilled by Sears program charges the same storage fees of 45 to 60 cents per cubic foot, but higher pick and pack fees of $3 per item. Sears has set the order-handling fee at $1.50 for ground shipments, $7.50 for two-day shipments, and from 45 cents to $1.90 for next-day shipments. The higher fee for two-day shipments relates to the cost of preparing packages for air shipments, a spokesman says.
Fulfilled also lets client retailers and their customers track shipments, the chain says.
Client retailers also must cover their own costs of shipping products to Sears’ fulfillment centers and from the centers to their customers’ addresses, but they can ship at the volume discount rates Sears gets from carriers, the company says. Fulfilled by Sears requires no minimum order volume, and enables participating sellers to quickly scale up when they need more fulfillment capacity, Sears says.
The retailer isn’t saying how many warehouses and stores are available to fulfill orders through the program. The company operates about 800 full-line Sears brand stores; the fulfillment service doesn’t include the facilities of the Kmart retail chain, which Sears Holdings also owns.
Jooma declines to say how many retailers are using Fulfilled by Sears, which the company is promoting through May with discounted fees, including 50% off the cost of shipping goods to a Sears facility. Sears has offered the program in the past on a more limited basis through the Sears.com marketplace, which Sears launched in 2009. The company doesn’t specify how many retailers sell through its marketplace, but notes the number is in the thousands.
Fulfilling web orders from retail stores will be discussed at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2013, by Jason Merrick, director of e-commerce for Peter Glenn Ski & Sports, in the session “Leveraging your store base for e-commerce fulfillment: How to make it work.”
In another IRCE session on fulfillment, Kevin McCracken, chief operating officer and founder of Social Imprints, a retail custom printing company, will discuss how he addressed fulfillment challenges in the session “Finding the fulfillment vendor that suits your needs.”