Sears Holdings announced the launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com, as well as the integration of the full line of Kenmore Smart appliances with Amazon Alexa. This marks the broadest distribution of Kenmore, outside of Sears branded stores and related online retail platforms.
“If you think of Amazon as your competitor, you’ve lost the battle, but if you look at Amazon as a partner and a digital marketing expert, they have capabilities you don’t have, it’s a whole different story,” said Sam Cinquegrani, CEO of digital marketing technology and services company, ObjectWave Corp. “When it comes to ecommerce, Sears was very aggressive, and actually back then, one of the first to post its products online.”
Cinquegrani said now Sears is thinking of Amazon as a distribution channel rather than a competitor. And this represents the future of retail. For Sears, why not take advantage of digital prowess of the biggest ecommerce provider in the number one online marketplace?
“In the same way that Sears isn’t going to start its own delivery service because it can’t do it as effectively as a UPS or FedEx, similarly with Amazon’s marketing and distribution capabilities,” said Cinquegrani.
Kenmore Smart connected room air conditioners integrated with Alexa are now available on Amazon.com. The distribution on Amazon.com is planned to be expanded to the full line of Kenmore home appliances in all U.S. market segments, with Kenmore, Sears Home Services, and Innovel Solutions providing white-glove service for delivery, installation and extended product protection for a full range of home appliances.
“We continuously look for opportunities to enhance the reach of our iconic brands to more customers and create additional value from our assets,” said Edward S. Lampert, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sears Holdings. “The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S. At the same time, Sears Home Services and our Innovel Solutions unit will benefit from the relationship as more customers experience their quality services for Kenmore products purchased on Amazon.com.”
The Kenmore Smart skill for Amazon Alexa enables customers to control their Kenmore Smart home appliances by simply asking Alexa, such as changing the temperature on their air conditioner without leaving the sofa by saying: “Alexa, tell Kenmore Smart to set my air conditioner to 70 degrees.” Customers can enable the Kenmore Smart skill in the Alexa Skill Store, link their account and then begin asking Alexa to interact with their Kenmore Smart appliances.
“Voice is a natural interface for the smart home, so we’re thrilled that customers can now simply ask Alexa to interact with their Kenmore Smart appliances,” said Charlie Kindel, Director of Alexa Smart Home. “We’re excited that Kenmore has added Alexa functionality to these products and we think customers will love the convenience of cooling their home, starting their laundry, and more, using only their voice.”
“Working with Amazon is perfectly aligned with our omnichannel strategy to unleash the power and service of Kenmore and support the brand’s growth,” said Tom Park, President of Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands at Sears Holdings. “This collaboration is the first of its kind for Kenmore, broadening its accessibility to the next generation of American families outside of Sears branded retail channels.”
Greg Portell, lead partner the retail practice of A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consultant firm said this was a very smart move from Sears’ perspective.
“They’re able to monetize the Kenmore brand without losing control,” said Portell. “In the past, they’ve divested brands because they weren’t able to nurture them or get the proper value out of them internally. But in this case, they’re using the brand differently as an asset, because it clearly has the value that stretches beyond simply being an appliance.”
Portell continued, “So this is a really smart way for Sears to think about it. The other angle that jumps out in terms of smart moves, this connection to Alexa gives them the ability to get into the IoT market without having to build their own capabilties. They get to take a premiere technology and integrate it into their products as part of this deal, which is a great way to move forward.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.