“Sears was once the king of retailers. Now it’s a cash-starved shell of itself whose very survival is in doubt.” -Chris Isidore, CNN Money.
The following paper analyzes the underlying reasons for failures and their possible solutions in the context of an ex-business giant, Sears. Sears, which was originally founded as Sears, Roebuck, and Company, is an America-based business of departmental chain stores. It was founded in 1892 by business partners Alvah Curtis Roebuck and Richard Warren Sears. The subject Company fulfilled a formality for being a record-breaking consumer sector through reincorporation and issuance of the initial public offer (IPO) in1906 in association with Sears’s new partner, Julius Rosenwald. Throughout the nineteenth century Sears indulged the reputation of a most successful and massive retailing and mail-ordered company. In due course, Sears emerged as the nation’s greatest corporation and reshaped the shopping experience of the American people. During the elongated and glorious era of 130 years, Sears demonstrates the rise and decline of the American culture of consumers.
Since 1993 Sears has continuously encountered failures, losses, and closers. It was in June 2017 when Sears Holding Corporation (SHLD) declared the closure of 72 stores along with Kmart stores. Afterwards, it became viral, and in the same month of June, it shut down more than 20 stores. After that, forty-three stores closed in July, twenty in August, sixty-three in November and one hundred and three in January 2018. The minimization of locations shrunk the store’s settings as well as employees, and in due course, Sears lost its alliance with Whirlpool, which has continued since 1916. (Floyd, 2018) Unfortunately and shockingly, Sears made another announcement last week (April 2018) that SHLD is going to shut more than sixty-three stores.
This number of closings was an addition to the 358 stores which ceased their existence in the previous year. Despite confronting persistent decline, Sears assured in a press release that all the shedding is a step toward the betterment of the corporation. (Dennis, 2017) Sears has become a hot topic in the business news, and all headlines about Sears share more about its endless closings. Recently it is highlighted that Sears is finishing more stores in different locations along with its sixteen bricks and mortar through an online auction. (Preston, 2017) moreover, the Sears store, which was famously located at Wyoming Valley Mall, met with a similar destination of previously closed stores. (Ratchford, 2018) and according to Tuscon News (2018), Park Place Mall’s Sears store has also sealed its gates.
Take a look back at the past when K-Mart acquired Sears for eleven billion dollars; this unfeasible acquisition took place under the supervision of Eddie Lampert: the hedge fund manager of Sears. However this table-turning acquisition was hailed at that time, but in light of the present downfall, it is evident that it was a flop. The casserole of lousy luck was further spiced up by a similar Mr Lampert, who endeavoured to mitigate the massive costs by cutting the investments and reducing the advertisement budget. According to different experts, there are several reasons for the fall of the Sears Empire (remember, the Spanish Empire also fell because of mismanagement and ineffective economic decisions and strategy).
Reasons Of Sears’ Demise
Sears carries products which are slightly old-fashioned for Millennials and the young generation. For this reason, the average customer base of Sears has skimmed to only people who are 50 or above. People turn their cars toward Walmart, J.C Penny and other variety-departmental stores to have a complete and updated treat under one roof.
It was 1888 when Sears first ever launched its product catalogue; it was a marvel in the time of prehistoric era because at that time, people used to make furniture and clothes, etc., by themselves. Meanwhile, Sears preamble the concept of mass-produced goods along with a wide range of home appliances to save manual power. Such appliances included washing machines, dishwashers etc. Sears played a vital role in anchoring newly built communities throughout postwar America and sustained suburbanization. Sears faced an array of well-equipped rivals throughout the 1990s. First arrived Walmart which offered a wide variety of different goods along with groceries just under one roof, then emerged Home Depot and Jones Industrial Age all blew tough and stricter competitiveness toward Sears and made its steps shaky. (Colvin, 2018)
The global era is laden with rivalry and competition in almost every field of life. One has to run an extra mile to ditch their foes. But Sears is doing nearly nothing to attract and retain their valuable asset; which is the customers. Mr. Lampert has already dwindled the advertisement budget, and the humble and old-fashioned products are working well to avert the customers and hush them toward other substitutes. The impractical and ineffective competitive strategy is a gigantic reason behind the failure of Sears’s restructuring and other efforts.
Lack of Branding
Branding has become a new black in today’s world of advancement. Customers have altered their perspective to a great extent, and luxury and brands have become an integral part of everyone’s life. The underlying reason for the decline of most of the retail stores, such as Sears and K-Mart, is the lack of differential and consumers’ compelling strategies. People need a specific point which shows their benefits, but Sears does not have any apparent charm to attract customers to its stores on a regular basis.
Customers are the most valuable asset of any business, and to establish a profitable corporation, management needs to comprehend the tangling nature of handling customers effectively. Repeat customers sustain the business sales, and a satisfied customer brings more customers through mouth publicity. Nevertheless, Sears never paid any attention to the customer service department. According to a general observation, the shopping experience within Sears’ premises is not exciting and is equivalent to boring and tedious. Evidently, no floor staff of Sears ever appears to assist the consumers, and there is no concept of after-sales service. A few people complained that they ordered the furniture, but Sears never consulted the schedule.
Resist to Change
Sears is a decades old Retailing Corporation and holds vintage beliefs dearly. One of the main reasons behind its fall down is the resistance to adopt the change. Change is an inevitable part of a business entity’s survival, and people who deny accepting this implication fall into the pit of failure. Take the instance of Kodak, which faced a similar destiny by just avoiding the necessity of changing over time.
Prospect Solutions for Sears Blunders
The major reasons behind falling of Sears have been briefed above, and now have an outlook on possible solutions or remedies which can provide betterment to the situation to a great extent. Sears needs to manage business operations and other interrelated supply chains in a retailing manner; it is not a financial company, and therefore it should avoid exerting all its energy on financial analysis (for the time being). A retail business builds and sustains a customer base by making it a pivot of attention and therefore, Sears needs to find out ways to please the consumers. Similarly, Sears has to explore the world that exists beyond conventional retailing because the new era of advancement implicates a necessity to transform basic and traditional strategies. In this context, Sears has to incorporate different attractions and excitement into its stores and brands to re-engage and invite customers to the shopping with Sears once again. It is not a minor point of the solution. Rather, it is the essence of the overall rehabilitation plan. It would be like asking the consumers to give Sears a second chance as friends do, apologizing to the consumers through offering them premium services with brands and premium quality products. Moreover, arrange different schemes to give incentives for referring other consumers as well.
Meanwhile, Sears has to devise some workable and feasible strategies to have control over the products and goods offered. Sears also has to pay close and cautious attention to the interior atmosphere and ambience of their stores and has to incorporate warm, friendly customer service along with a variety of fresher and up-to-date products and different brands. Besides, Sears has to avoid the vague implications of advisors like Mr. Lampert and should seek opportunities for reinvestment. Reinvestment is an indispensable way to bring Sears back into the business. Sears has to invest in stores and their inventories, invest in business operations to make them adaptable to new and innovative trends and invest in advertisement and online promotion to win the customer base once again. Sears has been a giant and winning retailer. However, the heavy flood of rivals and technological and perceptive advancements pushed it away.
But there is always room for improvement. Sears has paralysis because it believes that it has more to lose than to win. It is carrying an organizational culture which elaborates the importance of saving itself instead of altering, modifying and transferring the entire corporation in the alignment of the running sand of an hourglass. Miraculously, Sears still exists regardless of the shedding of stores and encountering a dark period of unprofitability. Last year Sears showed revenue of about twenty-five billion which was a meager amount as compared to 482 billion dollars of Walmart. It depicts a great difference and is created after all this time of ineffective strategies of Sears. Closing the stores is not an effective way of restructuring the business as it will weaken it by every shutting store. Today businesses are exerting their attention on both online and brick-and-mortar stores, and it is an advantage of Sears has its several stores located in different places. Sears should utilize this plus point to catch a growth leap; it should establish a brand and invest in local and international brands to captivate the attention of consumers.
By analyzing the content mentioned above, it becomes evident that Sears started its business journey with all the glory, excellence and victory. However, the new era of globalization and technological advancement has majorly shifted the trends and brought out numerous competitors. Walmart, Amazon, Target, eBay and the list goes on are the significant names in the index of recent retailers which are doing fine. On the other hand, Sears is doing just one thing: falsifying its prosperity. By closing more and more stores monthly, Sears is making a fool out of it that it is a part of restructuring the business meanwhile, all of this is merely an illusion. Sears is also closing its stores in Canada because, according to a general survey, people even do not remember exactly when they last visited any Sears store. The problem is not with Sears. It is with the strategies and stubbornness it is infusing into its business operations. Sears is encountering a closure because of the same reason any business falls, be it a corporation, NGO or sometimes states and empires: the ineffectiveness of practices and a resist to change. There are a few underlying ingredients which are necessary to cook the recipe of a successful organization; such ingredients include accurate and practical ideas and an interest which is aligned with individual and overall business objectives.
Without adopting the change throughout all the business activities, Sears cannot survive in the tremendous world of today’s business. Sears has to shift the trends from top to bottom and then from bottom to top. It has to revise the inventory patterns it has held for decades and has to invest in some popular brands to facilitate its youngster and modern customers. Sears has to train its employees regarding customer services and develop a rules ‘sheet to make every employee clear about the general requirements and standards of the post and pre-selling services. Sears has to invest considerable time, effort and money to establish its advertising area; Sears should also utilize all social media junctions to promote its offerings and to expand its consumer following. Moreover, it has to develop a few programs to lure consumers through discount and referral offers. Most of all Sears has to integrate all these strategies toward a single objective that is sustaining the falling Sears.
Dennis, Steve. Sears: Dead Brand Walking. Nov 14, 2017. Forbes.
Apr 13, 2018
Last year Sears Holding made several announcements regarding the future of Sears. The number of stores closing is discussed, as well as the plan for where the store is heading with the closures. Details were also released on how it plans to improve its financial struggle not only with its Sears Stores but with Kmart as well. This article provides a profound insight into how blind cooperation is in understanding their financial situation as well as how to fix it properly. The ideas are good and are the right steps in the right direction, but the paths they are following are all ineffective. And by executing “the world’s slowest liquidation sale” they are doing a great job of masking the true issues they have, but I can see easy steps to begin that could take the store in the direction that is needed.
Peterson, Hayley. Sears has a bigger problem than plunging sales. May 16, 2017. Business
Insider.http://www.businessinsider.com/sears-supplier-concerns-about-possible-bankruptcy-2017-5. Apr 13, 2018
It is long known that Sears has bigger issues and problems than the apparent loss of sales. More time and focus needed to be put into looking at dwindling inventory. Companies that supply the retail store have become more concerned with the store’s inability to pay and have in turn, cut down on shipments to the stores. It means that Sears and Kmart are receiving far less merchandise than before, which means less choice for the consumers. Fewer choices, in turn, mean fewer customers. Changes need to be made when it comes to carrying a good variety of products that consumers are looking for. Providing a wider variety of products offered for the products that are in demand, may increase the number of customers that may come in to visit the store. More customers mean a possible increase in profit and the ability to the possibility of saving the store.
Floyd, David. Who Killed Sears? 50 Years on the Road to Ruin. Jan 4, 2018. Investopedia.
https://www.investopedia.com/news/downfall-of-sears. Apr 13, 2018
Throughout the last few years, Sears Holding Corp has announced the closing of many of their Sears and Kmart stores. Sears had 90 years of profitable gain, offering a huge variety of products that gave consumers the ability to do one-stop shopping for everything from clothes to tools to even home and electric appliances and many more items for the family and home. However, Sears began its downfall roughly around 1969, and since then, it’s been a slow decline in profit. Many things can be done to change and turn the direction that Sears is heading toward, but it is advised that Corps needs to reevaluate its roots and identify the success factors extracted from commencement strategies. Sears has not failed, but it is time for a substantial change, and change is good.
History.com Staff. “Sears.” , 2017, History.com, A&E Television Networks
Sears has a marvellous history from its commencement, and regardless of its current unstable position, no one can deny its glorious years. The subject website elucidates a brief history of Sears from its inauguration and also describes other factors, including the development of the initial catalogue, the wish book of Sears and lots more. Throughout the section of Sears, History.com recalls all the major events and happenings at Sears. It also highlighted the Sears Homes, different stores and their locations and the products Sears offered. The most prominent dealers at Sears are Kenmore Appliances, Allstate Insurance, and Craftsmen. The site also briefs about the Discover card launched by Sears in the 1980s to 1985.
Colvin, G. Why Sears Failed |2018, Fortune. http://fortune.com/2016/12/09/why-sears-failed/
In his article, Colvin discussed the recent Sears downfall and recalled the previous phenomenon in this regard. Colvin presents a detailed account of a few errors which were conducted by Sears and eventually became the reason for its decline. Step by step, he asserts that firstly it was denial which led Sears to the blur and made it oblivion to the mistakes it was making. Secondly, it was the factor of the insulator which impeded the urge of Sears to invest with other corporations and suppliers. Last but not least reason for the demise of Sears, according to Colvin, is the paralysis which stopped Sears from implementing the change to its operational and business practices.
Ratchford, D. Sears Store, Auto Center at Wyoming Valley Mall to Close. 2018.
The site declares the news of the Sears auto centre closure in Wyoming Valley Mall. It tells that employees of the recently closed store got the news from the store manager on the morning of a Thursday. Moreover, it is also cleared that the liquidation sale is expected by 27 April 2018. Sears administration officials informed that Sears Auto Center would be shut down in the middle of May; meanwhile, Sears store will be shut by the middle of July. According to these closures, all eligible employees are offered severance and allowed to apply for suitable jobs in other Sears stores. The site says that Sears’s officials explained that the subject is shutting down of the auto centre and stores were fragments of a companywide tactic to restructure the business.
Isidore, C. Here’s what’s killing Sears. 2018 CNN Money
CNN Money is a site which provides its audiences with up-to-date information from all around the business world. For the same reason, it elaborates on the inception and downfall of Sears and explicates that Sears was once known as a monarch among other retailers. However, in light of recent conditions and problems, it is facing it not hard to say that Sears’s survival is difficult. According to the experts of CNN Money, Sears confronted a slow death. Throughout the article, Isidore retells a brief account of the major achievements and success stories of Sears and then gradually moves toward the hurtful issues. For this purpose, he describes the dealers of Sears, such as Kenmore, Craftsmen, and Whirlpool. The article asserts that Sears was the preeminent leader in the sales of appliances market in the United States. However, the unsupportive and devastating states of business made Sears drop the shares of Whirlpool’s international sales, and consequently, the rate of global Whirlpool sales became only 3%. According to a profound observation, the lack of strategic outlook is the underlying cause of all this hullaballoo. Sean Maharaj, the consultant, explains that Sears implementing absurd strategies such as store closings, sales of brands, and other endeavours are not going to turn the table for Sears. Sears is just passing its time by doing such pointless activities and trying to delay the actual time of its loss which is inevitable.
Tucson News Now Staff. “Sears Store at Park Place Mall Closing Its Doors.” Home – Tucson
News Now, 20 Apr. 2018, www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/38005427/sears-closing-park-
Tuscon News, similar to CNN Money, highlights the recent news from all around the world as well as business insights. According to the news, it is evident that the Sears store, which is located in the Park Place Mall, is about to face the same destination of closure as many other Sears auto centres and stores. The subject store was launched in 1961, and its liquidation procedures are planned in the middle of July. The person of Sears states that they comprehend the disappointment of employees and involved parties after this closure, but he assured the audiences that Shop Your Way is a platform which keeps connected all the consumers (if there are left any). Howard Riefs: director of Sears’s communication, further says that they are expecting to maintain a fragment of sales which was interconnected with the Sears store by sustaining the kinship with valuable members who utilized the facility of Shop Your Way.
Milke, Mike. Why Sears Failed: Lessons from Winston Churchill – Oct. 2017,
In this news article, Milke highlights the closures of Sears’s stores within the premises of Canada and in due course, he recalls the early years of his life when he used to visit the stores frequently. However, he admits that it was a decade ago when he visited the store last time and bought a vacuum cleaner and some disposable bags. According to Milke, the chief logic behind the failure of Sears is the lack of workable ideas, and he says that no one from the executive board has a suitable strategy or set of ideas to resolve the issue. He stresses the need to implement appropriate tactics to cope with the innovative retailing environment. In due course, he recommended empowering employees to work with the adverse situation and allow the implementation their ideas to the declining state of affairs. He blames the wrong decisions of the wrong people (evidently including Mr. Lampert). At the end of the article, Milke concludes the discussion by asserting his perception that the lack of skills of individuals and alignment of an idea becomes the cause of the decline of Sears Canada. Evidently, Sears Canada unsuccessfully handled the interests of the corporation as well as issues such as profitability and consumers and with such errors a substantial failure was unavoidable.
Evans, Pete. “All Remaining Sears Stores in Canada to Close after Court OK’s Liquidation |
CBC News.” CBC news, CBC/Radio Canada, 14 Oct. 2017,
Through this article, Evans delivers the approval highlights which were passed by the Ontario Superior Court’s judge. Previously Sears filed a plea to the Canadian court to allow liquidation of the remaining stores of Sears in Canada. The permission is granted within a few days after the submission of the request. Evans explains that Sears was operating in Canada for six decades, and because of adverse financial and business crises, it was attempting to restructure its business position under the supervision of the Court. Evan also included insight from a marketing professor, David Soberman, on the issue, and he reflects that Sears was facing devastating problems for many years or, say, decades, but it was only a few years back when it started anything to save face. He further says that it is like securing the doors of the barn after escaping the horse.
Lodge, Michelle. “Top 4 Reasons Sears Could File for Bankruptcy in 2018.” TheStreet,
TheStreet, 25 Jan. 2018, www.thestreet.com/story/14450394/1/sears-could-bankrupt-in-
Throughout the subject article Lodge is trying to make the point to describe the four major reasons for the underlying failure of Sears. He accused Mr. Lambert of making a most crucial mistake which eventually led Sears to this hazardous condition. Lodge affirms that disinvestment is a major reason through which Sears lost its presence in the market, and now it has to close most of its stores to restructure the business. Lodge also underlines Sears’ mistake, which it conducted by not gaining the advantages from an alliance with K-Mart because it was a golden chance to captivate a huge group of low-income consumers. Moreover, Lodge condemned the ideas of Lambert and says that once he was the cover man for the business magazines, but from now on he should be taken as a warning sign, and it is better to never heed his ideas or business propositions.