Sears just got a little more fancy.
The department store chain, known for its affordable clothing and home appliance offerings, is now peddling high-end designer duds from major labels including, Chanel, Rolex and Zac Posen.
The designer goods will be sold on The Sears Marketplace through third-party vendors. The move may seem counterintuitive, but a Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) spokesperson says it takes the department store back to its roots, which once included selling cars.
“We’ve grown Sears Marketplace to include more than 85 million items in just more than three years, so while it does include designer items, it also includes literally millions of other items across nearly every imaginable product category at a wide variety of price ranges. We’re focused on serving, delighting and engaging our members while they shop their way,” said Imran Jooma, executive vice president and president, marketing, online and financial services, Sears Holdings in a statement to FOX Business.
However, luxury marketing expert Pam Danziger, says the move is misguided and will confuse shoppers looking for a bargain.
“It just seems totally nuts to me,” Danziger, who is president of Unity Marketing says. “Sears, K-Mart and luxury don’t go together.”
Shares of Sears were up 12 cents to $44.50 on Monday.
Sears Marketplace faces stiff competition in the e-commerce world that is currently dominated by eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), which are more widely-known and established. Luxury consumers will likely have trouble making the switch to trusting Sears in making big-ticketed purchases, says Danziger.
“eBay has had success, but that is a function of their longevity and through their ratings system, they have given [shoppers] more confidence. I don’t know how Sears can match the length of time eBay has been at this business to compete with them,” Danziger says.
Offering more upscale items can help a company’s bottom line, Danziger says, calling K-Mart’s move to sell Martha Stewart products a smart decision. But Sear’s move might be too far of a jump.
“Affluent [consumers] only make up about 20% of American households, but are 40% of consumer spending. But Sears is wasting time on this. They should be doing a better job of attracting more affluent customers back into their store, with good merchandise and good service,” she says. “Affluent shoppers buy from all classes of stores—from dollar stores up to Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.”
But Sears seems confident the move was a smart one, and will enable it to better serve its customers with more selection.
“When you combine the capabilities of our stores with the broad assortment we have available online, it will help bring an endless aisle of products from our Marketplace to our members and start to blur the four walls of our stores. If our members can't find the items they need in a store, they can order through the terminals or tablets in store and have them delivered to their homes,” Jooma says in a statement.