Sears finds niche as brick-and-mortar resource for Amazon
- Sears Auto Centers announced it will provide full-service tire installation to customers who purchase tires on Amazon. The service can apply to any brand of tire sold on Amazon, including Sears' own DieHard brand.
- The service will initially roll out at 47 Sears Auto Centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
- The tire service announcement comes after Sears started selling its Kenmore brand alliances on Amazon in July 2017.
It seems as if traditional retail and leading e-commerce companies can have a symbiotic relationship after all. Sears, thought down for the count by many in the retail sector, has new life with a developing relationship with Amazon.
First, they began selling their appliances on the Amazon marketplace. And now Amazon customers can buy tires online and have them installed at a Sears Auto Center. And perhaps that Amazon customer can walk into the Sears store and buy a couple of things while they wait.
They might actually stumble onto a Lands End micro store at Sears. The Dodgeville, Wisconsin, web retailer has been working with Sears for years, acting as a showroom of sorts, but also handling returns and exchanges. It certainly looks as if Sears has found its niche as a brick-and-mortar resource for large e-commerce businesses.
But there are other strange bedfellows. Walk into some Walgreens stores and you will find FedEx drop-off and pickup services. This is certainly not their core business, but with extended hours and lots of locations, Walgreens provides a service that FedEx cannot deliver. Some increased store traffic doesn't hurt either.
Get your photos done online through places like Snapfish? You can have them sent directly to you through the mail, or have them ready for pick-up at a Walgreens or CVS store. And while both companies also provide picture-printing services, their store locations also provide a distribution center for a competitor. Perhaps it is the lure of the foot traffic.
Let’s look at logistics. My last online purchase, Lands’ End by the way, was picked up at their distribution center by UPS and delivered to my home via my regular mail person. We can call that intermodal cooperation. UPS can move freight quickly, and the USPS has that last-mile delivery process pretty much under control.
So once again, there is evidence of equilibrium in business. Online businesses may be efficient, but a lack of a well-defined presence has its limits. Traditional retail is under threat from online retailers, but a set of snow tires does little good sitting on my front porch and not on my car.
Look for more of these types of relationships were competitors work together for their joint benefit. The customers, and the shareholders, win. And note that if this is happening in retail, it is only a matter of time before it happens in the industrial supply chain: suppliers may begin working together to help customers, and themselves.