A household name for nearly 120 years, Sears built its reputation as a mega-retailer by focusing on the desires of its customers. The company, which opened its doors in 1893, started one of the first U.S. mail-order businesses in response to the needs of the nation’s turn-of-the-century farmers.
The retailer’s whopping 532-page catalog in 1895 offered a wide assortment of merchandise to customers everywhere—from women’s garments and shoes, to fishing tackle, saddles, and firearms.
Today the retail giant known as Sears, Roebuck and Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation, is a leading broadline retailer with more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the U.S. and Canada. The company owns several recognizable proprietary brands, including Kmart, Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard, and Land’s End, and makes 15 million home service calls annually.
The retailer has encouraged the growth of its community on the web — in October, it celebrated its millionth MySears community member. And as of writing, it had more than 1.5 million likes on its main Facebook Page and 22,000 followers on its main Twitter page. Not too shabby.
Contently recently caught up with Michael Murray, chief marketing officer of ecommerce at Sears Holdings Corporation, to find out how the retailer’s commitment to ensuring customers have everything they want and need is reflected in the company’s social media strategy.
Contently: What kind of web and social media content does Sears produce, and what need does each type of content fill?
Sears: Sears delivers both engaging and promotional content. By sharing Twitter deals, brand news, and community programs on Facebook and YouTube, the company focuses on developing customer relationships. Continually creating new online and social media content helps us communicate with shoppers and receive important feedback so that we can positively enhance the shopping experience.
Sears also uses the power of the web to pave the way in integrated retail by providing customers the ability to shop their way – via online, mobile, in-store, and social media applications. For example, we created digital local ads that highlight products and offers available to customers at the Sears or Kmart stores where they like to shop. The technology provides real-time stock checks to eliminate unnecessary shopping trips.
The company also created multiple mobile apps to make shopping on your phone that much easier and rolled out iPads and iPod Touch devices in nearly 450 Sears and Kmart stores that enable associates to help customers check inventory, access product information and order products online from anywhere in the store.
Contently: How does your content strategy integrate with your company’s goals and promote the brand?
Sears: Our goal is to use online and social content to engage our shoppers in an interactive space while continuously expanding our social footprint and creating a seamlessly integrated shopping experience. We accomplish this through a multitude of features and activities, from promotions and contests, to sharing photos and favorite products.
Sears stays current in the digital space and continues to evolve its existing platforms to meet the demands of customers by offering unique services like Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store and mygofer service, the latter of which delivers directly to the home.
Contently: What types of content have been the most well-received?
Sears: As an iconic American brand, the unique history of Sears is a commonality that many of our shoppers share. Sears recently launched Sears, Kmart and Sears Latino Facebook Timeline brand pages – providing another innovative way to reach our community of shoppers in a space where they are already so actively involved. Through these Facebook Timeline brand pages, we share our rich history with some of our most loyal shoppers, as well as the next Sear’s generation.
We also recently brought the nostalgia and memories of the Sears holiday Wishbook to our online space.
Contently: How do you determine the effectiveness of content produced?
Sears: In addition to the basics, such as Facebook likes and Twitter followers, Sears monitors the effectiveness of content through engagement rates, shares and comments, percentage of traffic to our websites, click-through rates, customer dialogue, and in today’s environment—revenue.
Contently: How often do you publish?
Sears: We follow best practices for publishing content to our Facebook pages and Twitter handles, consistent with most major brands, to keep our pages fresh with content, deals and engaging brand news. Like any good communications platform, we develop advanced plans for our social efforts. Equally important, we maintain ongoing dialogue with our customers, creating organic content on a daily basis.
Image courtesy of Flickr, mollyblock