Is this a situation rife for conflict of interest?
Sears is experimenting with encouraging its appliance-repair teams to make sales pitches, and is featuring its repair technicians at workshops inside Sears stores, as the retailer explores ways to exploit its service and repair network.
A service technician who comes to a customer’s house to repair an appliance may offer to go online or call Sears to help the customer buy a new appliance if the customer decides a repair is too costly, said Tina Settecase, vice president and general merchandise manager for home appliances at Sears Holdings Corp.
The technician would bring along a booklet of Sears’ best-selling appliances to show customers. If the customer chooses a new appliance, the technician would either use the customer’s computer or call a dedicated phone line to make the sale. The test of the process will start in mid- to late June in a few markets.
“We are testing a number of options,” Settecase said. “We are in the customers’ homes. Is there a way, when the customer determines he or she believes a product is beyond repair, that we can put her in touch with a Sears sales person at that moment?”
Sears also has featured a service technician at home appliance “health check” events to answer shoppers’ questions about their appliances and how they work. The next one will take place on Aug. 25.
Sears is redefining its Kenmore brand to emphasize innovations. The retailer introduced 25 new Kenmore products at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas earlier this month. The products include a washer and dryer that use steam to remove stains and wrinkles.
Sears counts on its appliances, along with its lucrative extended warranties, for its lead over rivals.
In September, Sears will introduce a higher-end Kenmore Elite line of countertop appliances, including a coffeemaker that brews a pot of coffee in less than six minutes, and a toaster that toasts a slice of bread in 70 seconds versus the conventional three minutes.
With his foot in the front door, should we welcome targeted sales pitches? Are these to our advantage or just too much hard sell? Does it encourage even more “throwaway” of appliances that may have another few years of life in them?