Hoffman Estates-based Sears Holdings Corp., parent to Sears and Kmart stores, wants to make sure you have all the information you need, whether or not you make a purchase.
So the retailer launched Get Advice, where consumers who are part of the Shop Your Way loyalty program can ask a question and have it answered by Sears or Kmart store associates nationwide. More than 250,000 questions have been posted and answered online since it launched in April.
Topics have ranged from advice on the best baby cribs to replacing refrigerator water filters. Some questions have included: "Which kid's bike would you buy for a soon-to-be 4-year-old little boy?" "I recently bought a Ty Pennington Style Jefferson 5 Piece cushion high dining set. Is there a cover that fits well with this set?" and "Can we increase the water intake for a water efficient washer?"
"Shopping over the past decade has changed significantly and more people are comfortable doing business online and getting a quick answer," said Leena Munjal, senior vice president of member experience and integrated retail at Sears Holdings.
Last year, Sears launched a service called Member Assist that provided loyalty members a way to communicate directly with associates in their local Sears store, one-on-one through ShopYourWay.com or the Shop Your Way mobile app.
The company then introduced Get Advice last month so its members could "not only get one-on-one personal assistance, but also to reach many more experts who can provide reliable answers to their questions. Get Advice gives our members a way to tap into the knowledge of thousands of Sears store associates as well as the vast Shop Your Way community," she said.
Munjal wanted the feature to rely on the expertise and product knowledge of the company's thousands of store associates nationwide.
The store associates have access to tablets and handheld devices that can receive these questions as soon as they are posted and then they can respond, regardless of their physical location, she said.
Leena Munjal refers to the website and mobile app as a "social shopping destination."
"What's great about Get Advice is that associates and members can be a part of the ongoing conversation to help provide the best answers to member questions," she said. "Associates can build on the expert advice of their colleagues to enable the member to get a thorough answer to their service or product question from several experts. Members can also vote on the answer they found most helpful."
Sears plans to add more features online and via its app, but she declined to provide specifics.
"It is our responsibility to continue to find new ways to blur the boundaries between offline and online commerce by enhancing our mobile and online technologies to create new conveniences for our Shop Your Way members," Munjal said
•Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.