Here’s another in our series of big name store closings 🙁 — Sears will be closing its State Street store in Chicago by early April.
… does anyone else want to add: “Surprising no one?” Except, perhaps, Pat Quinn, who just signed them over a whole bunch of tax breaks to try to keep their HQ in IL. Um.
Sears Holdings Corp. tumbled the most in 8 1/2 years after saying it will close as many as 120 stores, with a deeper-than-expected sales decline casting doubt on Chairman Edward Lampert’s efforts to turn around the chain. Lampert has tried several strategies since merging Sears with Kmart in 2005, none of which have reversed falling sales.
Same-store sales at the largest U.S. department store chain fell 5.2 percent in the eight weeks ended Dec. 25, Sears said today. By contrast, such sales in the department-store sector as a whole will climb an estimated 4 percent in November and December, compared with the same period a year ago, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a New York-based trade group.
Here’s some free strategy for you, Sears/Kmart: Decide what you want to be. If you’re going to be a discount store, then drop your prices. If you’re going to be high quality, then clean up your dingy, dirty stores and improve the merchandise. You can’t sell low-quality products at high prices; people are smarter than that. Oh. And fix your horrible websites.
Boom, now give me millions in tumbling stock options. 🙂
I think I’m going to start hanging out my shingle as a high priced social media consultant to corporations. Here’s my gratis advice to Sears/Kmart for the day:
- Perhaps streaming movie rentals are not precisely the best fit for your business model.
- Maybe it’s a good idea to look at the complaints people have about you online.
- People share coupons on the Internet.
- Please fix your website.
- The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
OK, not to pick on them in particular. But it’s amazing to me how often large corporations, who I’m assuming do have galleries of high priced consultants at their beck and call, make very basic missteps. So what advice would you have for them? 🙂
This post has been sponsored by Sears. All opinions here, however, are my own.
I just realized I hadn’t updated you all on what happened with my crazy online shopping experience at Sears. Sears customer service called me last week and just placed my order over the phone. One thing I will say: Everyone I have dealt with at Sears, whether in the store or on the phone, has been super nice. So thumbs up for customer service.
All but one item has now arrived, so I’m going to be running some giveaways here. (Do not try to enter on this post — I’ll be running separate giveaway posts!) So here’s what I ended up buying (not pictured, one pair of earrings that hasn’t shown up yet). In addition to the giveaways, I’ll be donating some items — the Disney CD player is going to Toys for Tots tomorrow, and the mom PJs/boy pants are going to Salvation Army.
One Nintendo Wii (with Wii Sports and Sport Resort) and extra Wiimote for family gift
Land’s end lunchbox, hat and mittens set, PJs for pretend preschool girl
Disney sing along boom box for pretend preschool girl
Earrings and 2 pairs of PJs for pretend mom and fleece PJ pants for pretend preteen boy
Nintendo DSi for pretend preteen boy
4 LED flashlights and batteries for stocking stuffers
There’s something like $8-9 left on the Sears gift card, so I’ll probably just give that away, too.
Well… this was interesting! One thing I did learn was that I should have listened to my intuition from the beginning that confining all of your holiday shopping to one store is not necessarily the best choice. It would have been a lot more fun to have $600 to just chase the deals. 🙂 But, that’s probably more of a reflection of my own shopping habits and personality than anything else.
Sears store? Nicer than I remembered, and I will probably head back if I’m looking for tools or appliances, given their selection and the customer service. Sears website? Well, we’re not friends.
Sears Countdown deals
They also just sent me some countdown to Christmas deals to share, so here goes!
Sears Countdown Now! Deals 12/22- 12/24
- Keurig B40 Single Serve Coffeemaker Sale $109.99, Reg. $119.99
- 50-60% off coats, fleece, sweaters & sleepwear for the family!
- $69.99 Kodak C143 12mp Digital Camera – Reg. $89.99
- 50% Off DieHard PlUS All Other Workboots On Sale.
- Save On All Tires PLUS $70 mail-in rebate when you buy 4 Michelin tires (rebate offer good thru 1/2/11)
- Your Choice Craftsman Nextec lithium ion Multitool or Hammerhead Auto hammer $79.99. Lowest Price Ever
- Your choice $99 1 ctw. diamond hearts reg. $299.99 plus up to 60% off all other Fine Jewelry
This post has been sponsored by Sears. All opinions here, however, are my own.
I realized I already had a shop your way rewards account, so finally got logged into the Sears site with that and decided to give online shopping another go.
So I started with that Wii family gift. The Sears site? Still confusing. Check this out — I searched for Wii and saw several systems, most of which were the exact same bundle including Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and one Wiimote. On my initial search page, two were priced at $199 and one at $349. Huh?
So I thought I’d do a price comparison. (Click on the picture for a more readable version.)
Which does help me figure out the overpriced one is from a third-party seller, which makes sense, but oddly also changes the price of the white one to $267.27 and now tells me the black one at $199.99 is out of stock. Which, when I click on it, still tells me it’s in stock and available for shipping. Um. OK. So I add that and a Wiimote to the wishlist and move on.
Update OK, now I’m in my wishlist and trying to move the Wii to my cart….aaaand it’s indeed out of stock. So I try to add the white one to my cart — you know, the one that shows $199.99 on the search page? Yup, $267.27 when I go in item details or try to stick it in the cart.
Let me go search again for “wii console” instead of just “wii.” Good, here’s more. OK, here’s another white one for $199.99 further down the list, so I grab it, dump the black remote out of the cart, grab a white remote, and now I’m $250 into my remaining funds. Cool. Because now I’ve spent 1/2 hour trying to buy a Wii.
Then I went to eat dinner, deal with boys, blog about something else, and came back to find that they’ve started their Cyber Monday deals already tonight. OK! Let’s get shopping. Nope, Wii not on sale for Cyber Monday, darnit. Featured big deals: 60″ TV for $699.99 down from $1199.99 … I’d better look smaller. Um… security observation systems on mega sale, not what I was thinking of for a holiday gift, moving on. 12MP Nikon Coolpix for $99.99, not bad. Hey, up to 50% off sleepwear, let me try those Xmas morning PJ’s again.
Here, I can choose from girls, boys, mens, or “intimates.”
Let’s assume women are “intimate” — yup, apparently so. But there doesn’t seem to be a way to sort by women’s or juniors, and that’s all mixed together. So we’ll go with red checked fleece for mom, since that seems seasonal. Not much left in stock for pretend pre-teen boy, so we’ll just go with new lounge pants for $7.00, and we’ll get dad matching lounge pants for $7.99.
Big gift for pre-teen boy
Since this is my pretend pre-teen boy, we’re going to say he eschews other gifts and wants just one big one (well, plus his new lounge pants & the LED flashlight I picked up in store). The hot pre-teen boy gift? A Nintendo DSi with Mario Party! We’re on a Nintendo roll today — same price as most everyone else here, at $149.99.
Dribs and drabs
This leaves me with very little money on my gift card after tax, so let’s go check out and see what the damage is. Where I find on the payment screen that I can only use one code per order… or in my case, apparently no codes per order. The CYBER free shipping code from their home page does not work. Hunt for a new one and see code SANTA for free shipping on $99+. Nope, “not valid for the items you currently have in your order.” OK, use SNOW for $5/$50. Nope “not valid for the items you currently have in your order.”
So I go back to the cart and try to switch to in-store pickup. Nope, some of my items aren’t available for in-store pickup. Soooo let’s try this again. Go through the cart, won’t take my coupon codes, click a link that says “click to chat” and get punted to a generic customer service page. Oh, another link there to chat, let’s try that… I’m in!
So I’m connected to a live person and get an initial “hi my I please have your name” within a couple of seconds. I explain the problem. They ask for the item number. There are no item numbers on the checkout screen and you can’t click on items from the checkout screen. So I explain this and they ask me to hold on while they check. Now they’re asking where I got the code… OK, parse this:
Oy. Luckily, this is not my money. And psst… someone here may be winning some electronics — remember, I’m giving all this stuff away! 🙂 By the way, on the Sears homepage?
But then if you go in details, which I was too lazy to read before, apparently this is only in selected categories — both the free shipping on $99+ and on $49+ promos. I’m thinking my buddy the Wii is not eligible. So wouldn’t it just have been easier to say, hey, the free shipping promo is only good for selected items? My bad, but still.
Hmm, so that will leave $31.72 on my gift card. I think I’d better go buy something else so that I can be done here. How about some silver dolphin earrings for mom for $22.49. (Hey — Now “SNOW” works to take $5.00 off the order!) We’ll give pretend mom a little bonus cause we’ll say pretend dad wanted the Wii more… 😉 But look, an automatic 15% discount off fine jewelry for Cyber Monday gives me another $2.62 off.
Wait a second. 15% off $22.49 should be $3.37! What are they doing? The $5.00 discount all came off the earrings… So now the earrings are $22.49 -$5.00 = $17.49, and 15% off that is $2.62.
And, we’ll get dad a clearance camping radio and flashlight set for $11.98, just to round things out. But when I go to check out 5 minutes later, yup. No longer available. Although it still shows available when you click through to the item page. 10 minutes later… OK, that’s it, dad’s getting a clearance $10.97 laptop sleeve. We’re going to pretend he travels a lot. That leaves me with $3.19 on my gift card, and I’m calling it a night.
All in order
Place my order, get a fairly blank page with no confirmation that it went through. It better have…are you kidding me? It’s still showing 8 items in my cart. Nope, it looks like the order did not go through. Let’s try again. Good thing I’m paying with a gift card balance or I’d be nervous that it was charging my Visa twice.
Oh look. Now the women’s PJ’s are out of stock. Insert “hey, it’s now 11:42 and I’ve been at this for almost 2 hours” interjection of your choice here. Let’s grab another pair of PJs for about the same price and try, try again. Oddly enough, today I’m able to grab the PJs it told me were out of stock 2 days ago on Black Friday. We’ll roll with it. And the order does not go through AGAIN.
Not only that, it doesn’t tell you the order doesn’t go through or error out — the above is the fairly blank screen I get after clicking “place order now.” (Click on it to see it bigger…) Note the handy “null from Sears.com” title and the fact that 8 items are still sitting in my cart. So if I weren’t paying attention and saw that “8” up there, I might go to bed thinking it actually went.
Go back to the cart, it’s not yelling at me about something being out of stock this time. Try “place order now” two more times. Nope. OK, let’s try “review order.” Which gives me an order summary and two completely non-clickable “place order now” buttons.
So it’s now midnight. I call customer service. Customer service says “there’s a discrepancy on the site cause they’re loading stuff for Cyber Monday” and that “everyone has been calling in with the same problem” and to “close it out and try again later.”
I’ll be doing a wrap-up post later this week and will begin to give away some of these items. (Some will be given away to some of you; others will be donated.) But overall — I feel pretty bad about the less-than-positive things I’ve said about the Sears site over the past few days, given that the nice people at Sears are sponsoring this challenge, and given that the people in-store were so very nice.
Remember when some of you were saying at the beginning that I should be keeping the stuff I bought? I’m rather glad now that I’m not, because it’s important to me here to blog with integrity, and I’d feel even worse if Sears had actually given me $600 for keepsies. 🙂 But it is what it is: Their website needs work. This and my previous post on my online shopping experience with Sears only highlight a few of the major annoyances, but overall, this was not a pleasant shopping experience.
I do a lot of online shopping, so it’s not like I’m new to this — and if I hadn’t had their gift card in hand, I would have given up and gone somewhere else. I have now spent two hours trying to purchase 8 items — some of which I could easily have gotten cheaper elsewhere — and haven’t managed to get an order to go through. I do not want to be up at 12:10 AM with a failed order if I’m trying to buy over $400 in holiday gifts for my family.
It says it will save my cart for 30 days. I’ll try again to place the order in the morning, and hope that items stay in stock, because I really don’t want to play this game again.
Monday morning update
I tried to check out at 5AM when I was up for a bit, no dice. I tried again at 9AM, and the mom’s PJs, DSi, and laptop sleeve are now sold out. If I go to either the orange or green DSi pages, they show available for shipping but the add to cart button simply doesn’t work, so I assume they’re both out of stock. If I go to the woman’s PJs page, it shows in stock in several sizes. If I add any to my cart, it then tells me they’re out of stock when I begin the actual checkout process.
Hmm. I could go with the blue DSi XL, but it’s $20 more and includes no games. Heck with it. So I put that in the cart. Now that I have no women’s PJs or laptop case, maybe I can buy a cheapie game. What does a search for “dsi games” get me?
Riddle me that, Batman. Those are neither DSi’s nor games. So, I go to check out, and find that the $5.00 SNOW code no longer works — I’m guessing because the PJs are out of the order? Sheer conjecture at this point that maybe it doesn’t work on electronics. But my 15% code on the earrings now went up to $3.37.
So I try again to check out… and it doesn’t. How are things selling out? Perhaps only *I* can’t check out… so let’s try live chat again.
All gone, cart. Do I dare try again? Not only is my cart now empty, it also of course logged me out of everything else I was working on in other tabs.
Monday morning, 15 minutes later
So I fill up my cart again, cookies all nice and clear, go to check out…. same thing.
Epiphany! I’m using Firefox. Let’s try with Internet Explorer, just for kicks. Try one: “One or more of the items in your cart is no longer available.” OK, no PJs for pretend Mom. Try again… Same thing. Blank page, items still in cart. Well now it’s war. So I take everything out of my cart but the Wii, and we’ll try one item at a time. Place order on the Wii, and get this:
Go back to Sears.com and yup, the Wii is still in my cart, so perhaps he is the culprit. I’m done here.
Disclosure and fine print
As a part of participating in the Sears Savvy Shopping Challenge, Sears Holdings provided me with a pre-paid Sears gift card and a FlipCam to capture footage. They also provided me with some background information on their financial tools and seasonal offers. All products purchased during this challenge will be donated or given away at the end. I was not otherwise compensated for my time or posts, and the opinions here are all mine.