The appliance market landscape in America is changing, with customer research showing that brand name, quality and appearance are increasing in importance. Evolving to meet changing customer needs and to embrace its branding as “America’s Appliance Experts,” Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: SHOS) announced today the reinvention of its appliance retail strategy at its store formats, starting with Sears Hometown Stores.
Beginning in March 2015, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. will begin a two-phase refresh of 51 Sears Hometown Stores across the United States, culminating in grand reopening celebrations April 23-25, 2015. The refresh includes a new product assortment, redesigned merchandising, new fixtures & signage, and comprehensive training for floor associates, among other changes. The Company’s CEO and President, Bruce Johnson said, “With improved selling floors and enhanced technologies, our customers will have a shopping experience unmatched by any of our competitors.”
In the new store design, appliances will occupy more than half of the sales floor and include more brands with an improved presentation. The stores will also focus its appliances on innovative and value-added products from Whirlpool®, Maytag®, KitchenAid®, Samsung and Kenmore®.
The new floor plan also includes the ability to showcase complete kitchen packages through the addition of three kitchen vignettes. This allows stores to display an entire four-piece kitchen from multiple brands in a small amount of floor space, making it easier for customers to choose products. Another new feature that simplifies the buying process is a designated laundry innovation area, showcasing multiple brands and innovations that lets customers easily explore the differences between the various product lines.
“This wasn’t just a change in how the store is laid out. We started more fundamentally by considering the needs of our customers, what we want to stand for and what it means to be America’s Appliance Experts,” said Will Powell, Chief Operating Officer, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. “We rethought the buying process from end-to-end and created a very unique and positive experience for our customers. America’s Appliance Experts incorporates all aspects of the customer experience, taking into account everything from comprehensive training on our brands to in store display and the use of technology in the sales process.”
Customers also benefit from a new touch-screen kiosk where they can work with a salesperson or browse on their own to explore product options or make purchases. In addition, the Company is providing industry-leading comprehensive training to store associates, including brand-specific selling certification. These brand certified sales associates incorporate tablets when helping customers to ensure they find the best product for their needs at the best possible price. With the tablet, associates and customers can review product features and benefits as well as various models from the entire online database of Sears Hometown products – all while browsing models around the sales floor.
“We are one of the first national retailers in rural America to integrate tablets into the sales process,” said John Sessoms, DVP, Merchandising & Assorting, Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores, Inc. “In some of our smaller square footage stores, we are unable to showcase the entire assortment of merchandise, so having this technology enables our associates and customers to view the wide range of products that we have available.”