Seeking to set itself apart and offer greater convenience, Sears has added the ability to conduct returns and exchanges curbside from your car, extending its in-car pickup service begun earlier this year through its Shop My Way app.
To take advantage of the new return/exchange service, customers can visit sears.com, click on the customer service link, choose “returns and exchanges” and follow the prompts to identify the item. For an exchange, they select a new item and get an email confirmation when the replacement is ready for pickup.
Once at the store, customers park in a designated In-Vehicle Pickup spot, and notify the store of their arrival via the app. A timer will start on the phone, and a Sears associate will arrive within five minutes and complete the return or exchange.
To learn more about the program, which is available at all Sears full-line locations, Multichannel Merchant conducted a Q&A with Leena Munjal, senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail for parent company Sears Holdings.
MCM: Why did Sears decide to add returns/exchanges to the existing “pickup in car” program?
Munjal: Buying what you really want should be easy. Nobody enjoys having to return or exchange items, so we expanded our popular, curbside In-Vehicle Pickup program to include returns and exchanges, making the process more manageable and convenient for members. We believe in building relationships with our members, not just transactions. Introducing innovative services like In-Vehicle Pickup, Return and Exchange in Five will help us continue to achieve that goal.
MCM: What are the advantages for Sears customers?
Munjal: We’re all living busy, on-the-go lives, and this latest expansion to Sears integrated retail conveniences means that you can spend less time making a return or exchange and more time shopping. Since launching earlier this year, In-Vehicle Pickup has become a popular service, especially among members who have small children or live in inclement climates. We expect to hear the same feedback for returns and exchanges.
MCM: To your knowledge, does any other retailer offer pickup in car?
Munjal: In-Vehicle Pickup, Return and Exchange in Five is an industry-first on this scale and another example of how Sears and Shop Your Way constantly innovate to connect the ways our members shop.
MCM: When did it go into effect, and when is it available?
Munjal: After an initial pilot phase, we officially launched the service in mid-September. It is now available at all Sears full line stores nationwide during normal store hours, including the upcoming busy holiday season.
The new wrinkle to the curbside service was announced as Sears was set to receive a $400 million short-term loan from a hedge fund controlled by Sears Holdings Chairman and Chief Executive Eddie Lampert, to fund operations as its brick-and-mortar operations continue to struggle.
For the second quarter ended Aug. 2, Sears Holdings reported an adjusted loss of $313 million, compared to $78 million in the prior year, while revenue fell to $8 billion, compared to $8.9 billion last year. Sears full-line stores had comp store sales growth of 0.1%, while Kmart declined 1.7%. On the bright side, online and multichannel sales grew 18% in the quarter.