Once Upon a Time: When Sears was Amazon

Once Upon a Time When Sears was Amazon

On October 15, Sears announced that 142 more Sears or Sears-owned Kmart stores, will be closing in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It’s probably hard to convince your grandparents that Amazon sells “everything”. And it is just as hard to persuade your kids, that once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, Sears was as integral to our culture and our way of life as Amazon.com is today.

Sears, Roebuck and Company launched in 1892. The math on that is 126 years ago. By 1894, the Sears catalog was over 320 pages long. By 1908, its inventory had expanded to include home-building kits much like Amazon does today, complete with all the construction materials needed for the job. For millions of consumers, Sears was the consummate, go-to shopping resource.

Over the decades Sears launched numerous brands including Craftsman tools and DieHard Batteries. In 1973, they built the Sears Tower, which at the time stood as the world’s tallest building. There was almost no niche that Sears didn’t attempt to serve, including spin-off services like Discover Credit Cards and Allstate insurance. And of course, Sears inspired the Christmas dreams of generations of children with its Christmas Wish Book catalogs.

So where did Sears go wrong? Did they get too big? Did they diversify too much? What lessons can today’s companies learn from this story?

Maybe it’s simply that tomorrow is promised to no one. Starting today, make sure you’re doing everything you can to maximize your brand’s visibility and viability.

Engage new customers. Re-engage existing customers. Put the internet to work and make your brand larger than life.


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