Adding more to the MyKmart/MySears story, here are some more details and insight as to why they did it.

Insisting it has no plans to face off with Facebook or take the place of MySpace, retailer Sears has quietly launched its own social networking hub.

The chain has registered more than 200,000 registered users to MySears, a social networking site it rolled out in late March. This week Sears launched MyKmart, a similar site for its sister chain.

Rob Harles, vp-community for Sears, said the chain’s goal is to glean new insights from customers and give the brand more of a human face. “Ultimately we’re going to try to use this to first and foremost learn about our customers and secondly use those lessons and use that to integrate that into the shopping experience,” Harles said, adding that the company has already used some insights to restock items and address some customer service issues.

First of all, it doesn’t matter if you have 200,000 registered users if only 10% interact and are active.

Now that I better understand the goals and objectives (insights from customers, human face of the brand) of Sears/Kmart, I have to question two things:

  1. Will this exercise allow them to gain any REAL insights?  The people interacting on these sites (assuming most of them are not employees) will not necessarily be a fair representation of Sears’ and Kmart’s consumer group.
  2. Kmart and Sears are among, in my opinion, the least welcoming store formats around - if they really want to “…give the brand a more human face…”, how about focusing on customer service and interaction at the store level?

John Bernoff Forrester Research reiterates what I said in my earlier post.

Josh Bernoff, svp-idea development at Forrester Research, said that he thought Sears will have a tough time with the project. “It’s pretty hard to start a community in the context of a retail site unless your customers have a lot in common,” he said. “If you look at Sears, a Craftsman tool community would probably work out better than a Sears community. Do we really want to get together and talk about vacuums?”

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Posted by Malcolm on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 8:41 am
Filed Under Category: Consumer Goods
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