According to a recent report in Chain Store Age, Sears Holdings Corp. said Tuesday it will launch a sportswear collection inspired by the First Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. It is the first time the U.S. Army has licensed the use of its marks and insignias.
The All American Army Brand’s First Infantry Division collection for women, men and boys will debut in 550 Sears stores and on www.Sears.com in October.
I’ve written about Sears’ missteps in the past including tie-ins with MTV and the launch of an LL Cool J clothing line. Obviously those didn’t work as Sears reported a 62% slide in Q2 profits as the company struggled to attract customers to its stores despite a high-stakes restructuring.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
It’s the Merchandise, Stupid.
My first ever blog posting for allbusiness.com focused on what any good retailer should know: you’re only as good as your merchandise. You can sell the hottest Elmo toy out of the back of a pickup truck and still sellout because you’re selling something people want. In contrast, you can only put so much lipstick on a pig.
Sears needs to figure out what their brand means in a design-oriented world. The retailing world we live in has Target as its model, not some clunky-has been like Sears. Tie-ins with MTV, LL Cool J and now the military are desperate moves that only will serve to confuse its customers.
How does a multi-billion dollar company not understand THE basic tenet of retailing? Sears needs to find a leader who can help redefine the company, and then find a General Merchandising Manager, Chief Merchandising Manager, or whatever lofty title they’re being given these days, who can align with the CEO, understand the brand and start creating and bringing in merchandise that’s relevant to the brand.
Until they do that, Sears will continue to struggle.
Don’t get caught in the trap where you start bringing in all kinds of other stuff that isn’t relevant to your because it isn’t making it. Shake up your core concept – bring in different relevant lines than you have, change up your store environment, hire different staff. There could be several different reasons your concept isn’t making it. Your location could lack foot traffic, in which case all the new and different merchandise in the world isn’t going to fix that problem.
Be a Target, not a Sears. How are you going to accomplish that?