David Friedman, SVP and president of marketing for Sears Holdings, believes the company's staying power comes from its ability to remain a trusted retailer that Americans rely on to shop for their essential home and lifestyle needs.
- Headquarters: Hoffman Estates, Ill.
- Founding year: 1893 as Sears, Roebuck and Co.
- Number of locations as of January 2011: 3,500 domestic, 500 Canadian
- Brands: Lands’ End, Joe Boxer, Everlast, Smart Sense, Bongo, Country Living, Covington
- Q4 2010 net income: $374 million
David Friedman, SVP and president of marketing for Sears Holdings, believes Sears Holdings' staying power comes from its ability to remain a trusted retailer that Americans rely on to shop for their essential home and lifestyle needs. “Over the years, we have modified our business practices and improved our technology to provide the products and services our customers demand. We continue to work diligently to improve our businesses even more, in an effort to create value for our customers every day,” he said.
Friedman said maintaining communication with customers is a significant investment for retail companies like Sears, but it’s also essential. Indeed, Sears 125-year history began with the establishment of the first mail-order catalogue and changed as the company began marketing with newspaper circulars. Today, these platforms, which were once effective, are no longer as effective as they require long lead times and lack personalization—the exact opposite of what consumers today expect.
“Digital communication tools present an opportunity to personalize our messages and make them more timely and engaging,” said Friedman. “It is less about the art of the discount and more about the art of being relevant to our customers and their lives.”
Sears’ key strengths lie in three areas. First is its brand strategy. Sears boasts exclusive brands, including an assortment of top national brands, and proprietary brands like Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard. In addition, celebrity brand partners were important at Sears before they became a retail trend. Jaclyn Smith, for example, recently celebrated 25 years with Kmart. Today, Sears continues to add top celebrity names and brands to its portfolio. This year, it launched two apparel lines, UK Style by French Connection and the Kardashian Kollection, as well as a home line with Sandra Lee. Kmart also introduced a new partnership with Sofia Vergara.
The second key to Sears’ ongoing success is ongoing innovations. By integrating its vast store network with its world-class online properties, Sears continues to lead the rapidly evolving retail environment. “Our web and mobile platforms integrate shopping and marketing in a very different way than stores have in the past,” Friedman said. “Our associates are learning new skills, and we are creating new types of jobs that require us to recruit, train, and develop people who excel in technology and information management.”
Third in Sears’ list is staying connected to the communities in which it has a presence. “We strive to be a retailer that Americans can trust to find the products that are essential in their everyday lives,” said Friedman. With more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in communities across the country, Sears continues to expand its business on many levels to better fulfill its customers’ needs.
“From listening to our customers, we know that value means more than just low prices,” said Friedman. “We are committed to providing the highest quality products and services our customers expect while maintaining prices they can afford.”
Friedman further believes that Sears offerings continue to remain important to today’s customers because the retailer understands that consumers want to research and purchase products in the store, online, and through mobile devices. By improving its store experience, Sears remains the “go-to place” for its customers.
“We have focused much of our investment in emerging areas of retail like our online platforms and in our rewards program,” he said. “Becoming an integrated retailer is critical to our future success. We intend to build on our early learnings to make social shopping more central to our overall experiences.”
Friedman said Sears will continue to invest in and develop business models in emerging areas because “we believe they have the potential to make a significant difference to our associates, our customers, and our shareholders over time.”