Sears is allowing local sellers to offer their items through Sears.com, giving them the opportunity to market their goods nationally while furthering its quest to become the top online general store.
The largest push for the pilot program is in the Chicago area, but Sears is also testing similar programs in Boston, New York and Washington. Sears says it will work with local sellers who offer "unique" items that aren't available at Sears or Kmart—and aren't available on other sites. The chain hopes these unique items will give it an edge over competitors.
Sellers can apply for the program by going to the Sears Holdings site and submitting a Prospective Vendor/Supplier Profile Form. On this form, they can enter their company's information, describe the products they want to offer on Sears.com, the items' advantages, and whether the products would be better suited for customers of Sears, Kmart, or both. Sears will then contact sellers, if they're selected.
"This is a great way for a family-owned chain or local chain to market their products," says Imran Jooma, Sears' Internet Division president.
Wal-Mart began a similar program in September.
Edward Lampert, Sears' chairman, has made a strong push to establish a bigger online presence, and eventually make the chain the largest online general store, according to news reports. As part of the effort, Lampert has cut funds for Sears and Kmart brick-and-mortar shops and increased the money spent on Sears.com.
Sears has already added hundreds of thousands of items to its site since the beginning of the test last month, but hopes to add more.
To encourage regional, small sellers to submit their products, Sears will waive the $39.99 monthly fee it charges national sellers to offer their items on Sears.com, as well as warehouse and shipping costs. However, local sellers will pay a commission for each sale made, which will range from 7 percent to 20 percent.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.