This is likely the end of Sears’ 126-year history. Sears’ last profitable year was 2010 – it has lost $12 billion since then. But Sears holds a legendary place in the minds of U.S. consumers and the Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliance brands it created, loved by shoppers, will continue under new hands.
There will be many articles written and comments made about all this. Why did Sears lose its purpose? While there may be many reasons, the most obvious is that it failed to make the costly and risky leap to a fully digital offering.
This is in contrast to other legacy U.S. retailers like Walmart, Kohls, and Target. These players painfully learned how completely Amazon has permanently re-written retail history. These legacy retailers have stayed relevant by combining the strengths of their brick and mortar stores with powerful online shopping capabilities, making the necessary investments. They have stayed close to consumers and followed them online.
They’ve successfully learned that the future of shopping is not online or offline. It’s the successful combination of the two. If you’d like to explore more of this, please read my book, ‘The Future of Omni-Channel Retail: Predictions in the Age of Amazon’, now being used to teach retail strategy at two major universities!
When Sears filed for bankruptcy in October, it said it hoped to stay in business, using the bankruptcy process to reinvent itself as a more competitive retailer.
If the company does liquidate, it will be the largest ever in U.S. history and spell the end for the hundreds of stores still operating and 68,000 employees.
We’ll all be learning lessons from Sears’ experience for many years to come. Much more to come…