The future may hold far fewer and radically redesigned stores, analysts say.
The service enables consumers to receive same-day or next-day pickup from stores.
Sears Holdings Corp. has quietly launched a beta program called the Local Marketplace, an extension of its existing marketplace that seeks to provide a venue for local retailers to sell to consumers in the same metropolitan area.
The service allows other retailers selling through Sears.com to opt in to the Local Marketplace to enable consumers to receive same-day or next-day pickup from any of the marketplace merchant’s stores, a Sears or Kmart store, or to receive home delivery. Consumers can choose to pick up, or take delivery of at home, purchases from other retailers selling on the Local Marketplace—via Sears’ MyGofer service.
The service initially is available to consumers in the Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York City areas.
To show consumers which products are available for local pickup or delivery, Sears has added a “Shop for items I need” tab at the top of its web site. The tab allows consumers to select “now,” “later today,” “tomorrow” or “anytime.” The site then instructs the consumer to enter her ZIP code to see which products are available locally.
Sears says has it hopes the program lures regional chains and family-owned retailers to sell their unique products on Sears.com. For instance, Skinstinct, an organic apparel retailer located in Chicago, is selling apparel such as its silver flare dress on the Local Marketplace. Among the categories that retailers in the Local Marketplace are selling in are food and grocery, pet supplies, baby necessities and beauty products.
"Customers are at the heart of everything we do,” says Imran Jooma, general manager of e-commerce at Sears, No. 8 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. "In order to further our commitment to providing our customers with choice and convenience, we're providing customers with additional shopping features that our competitors wouldn't offer, including opening our marketplace to local merchants and delivering the items directly to our customers' homes. We're open to exploring different and innovative offerings for customers as long as it aligns with our goal to help create a better and more personal shopping experience for them, whether they're shopping in store or online through our expanded local marketplace."
To grow the number of merchants selling on the Local Marketplace, Sears is automatically enrolling all new marketplace sellers in the Local Marketplace program. The merchant then only has to designate locations where MyGofer or consumers can pick up purchases, as well as note which inventory and what quantity of each SKU is available locally. Sears approves every pickup location before noting on Sears.com that an item is available for local pickup.