Sears, Roebuck and Co. (NYSE: S) today officially launched a major expansion of its Web business, adding five new product categories: home electronics; computers and office equipment; small appliances and cookware; baby products through an online version of its "BabyMe" welcome guide; and school uniforms. These additions build on already broad offerings of major appliances, tools, lawn and garden equipment and parts on sears.com. At the same time, sears.com has been relaunched to enhance the shopping experience.
"We're doubling the product categories consumers can find on sears.com," said Dennis Honan, vice president, general manager of Sears Online. "We're creating one-site shopping for top brands of primary products for the home, while adding new categories for parents."
"Our bricks and clicks advantage means our customers can go to a single online store to shop, or to comparison shop and buy in-store," said Honan. "This will be especially convenient for our customers during gift-buying seasons, when furnishing a new home, getting ready for a new baby -- or for those college students going back to school next month who still need an iron, coffee maker, laptop computer, compact refrigerator or an MP3 player."
Across the primary product categories for the home and baby, consumers will find a common shopping cart, common navigation and enhanced search capabilities, including brand searches across categories. Products can be purchased with instant credit for qualified buyers and also can be conveniently returned to local full-line Sears stores. Shoppers also can view and compare up to three similar home products side by side.
Shoppers also will find more product advisors on sears.com. "Home Electronics Advisor," "Computer/Office Advisor" and "BabyMe Advisor" have been added to the popular "Appliance Advisor" and "Tool Answerman."
"Our focus on providing home-related solutions combined with our expanding product offerings make sears.com a leader among home product e-commerce sites," Honan said.
Sears.com led the rankings for unique visitors to home furnishings Web sites in May, according to the July 10 issue of HFN, the newsweekly of home products retailing.
Baby Products and School Uniforms
"By extending our popular 'BabyMe' welcome guide to the Web, customers now have the choice of shopping us in store, via phone or online for items ranging from baby furniture and bedding to travel gear and feeding products," said Honan.
"Time-starved moms and dads now can shop Sears for school uniforms when and where it's most convenient for them, with our new offering of French Toast® school uniforms at sears.com," added Honan.
French Toast, the leading brand for school uniforms, is also available at more than 600 full-line Sears stores. On sears.com, shoppers will find more than 4,000 items of official school wear from French Toast, the widest assortment of school uniforms in the United States, including special sizes like slim and plus.
Home Electronics/Home Office Products -- Online and In Stores
Among the broad selection of top home electronics and computer brands Sears carries are Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Bose, Sega, Philips, Toshiba, Hitachi, Apple and Compaq -- an assortment of top brands unavailable at any other top home electronics retailer. Now, Sears has gone online with that same assortment, offering more than 1,100 home electronics products and 120 brands. Introducing home electronics on sears.com expands Sears lead in this product category. Sears already sells more camcorders and TV/VCR combinations than any other retailer in the United States. It is the second largest U.S. retailer for projection TVs and the third largest for large-screen TVs and DVDs.
"E-tailing is a natural for 'e-products,' " said Ray Brown, vice president and general manager for Sears home electronics and home office. "Now our customers have a choice -- bricks, clicks or a combination of both, when shopping for hi-tech entertainment products and equipment."
Major product categories offered online include: home audio, home theater, computer, office and communications, portable electronics, cameras and camcorders, car electronics and video games -- with brands such as Gameboy, Nintendo, Sega, Dreamcast Games and Playstation.
Small Appliances and Cookware
Sears.com now offers more than a dozen categories of small appliance and cookware products -- from coffee makers and juicers to breadmakers and toaster ovens; from cookers, steamers and fryers to mixers, blenders and processors. In all, nearly 200 small appliances and selections of cookware in more than 20 brands are online.
Among the countertop appliance brands shoppers will find are Krups, Delonghi, Cuisinart, George Foreman, KitchenAid, Oster, Hamilton Beach and Black & Decker -- as well as Sears Kenmore brand. Cookware offerings include top brands such as Amaral, Thermo Spot by T-Fal and Circulon.
For shoppers seeking kitchen solutions, this expansion of sears.com is a strong complement to the nearly 2,600 appliances -- the largest online selection of major appliances -- the site already offers. Only Sears and sears.com sell the six top-selling major appliance brands, including GE, Whirlpool, Maytag, Amana, Frigidaire and Kenmore -- America's best-selling appliance brand.
About Sears Online
The primary focus of Sears Online is to provide home-related solutions. In addition to the five new product categories to sears.com, Sears recently announced two other home-focused online initiatives: BobVila.com, a joint venture with Bob Vila to develop America's definitive site for home improvement, and thegreatindoors.com, extending the concept of the popular home decorating and remodeling stores, The Great Indoors® to the Web. Both BobVila.com and thegreatindoors.com plan to launch this fall.
Earlier this year, Sears Online added lawn and garden equipment to sears.com, and Sears formed a strategic alliance with AOL to create more value for customers of both brands. Sears also was a charter member in the launch of GlobalNetXchange, the world's first online global business-to-business exchange for the retail industry.
To enhance navigation, searches and personalization opportunities, the sears.com site relaunch included building new categories with BroadVision technology and migrating the appliance offering to BroadVision's e-Business applications. Sears.com relaunched with a team that included Xpedior and Viant.
Sears, Roebuck and Co. is a leading U.S. retailer of apparel, home and automotive products and services, with annual revenue of nearly $40 billion. The company serves families throughout the country through approximately 860 department stores, more than 2,100 specialized retail locations, and a variety of online offerings accessible through the company's Web site, http://www.sears.com/ .
This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially, including risks associated with technological challenges, competition from other providers of online home-related solutions, and other factors.
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SOURCE: Sears, Roebuck and Co.
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