Can you compete with Sears?

By Stephen Rhodes

Small businesses often look to personalized service as their point of differentiation. Part of the assumption is that large faceless companies don’t really care about customers. And many large faceless companies do have large faceless customer service departments, manned by faceless automatons who are not empowered to actually make a decision.

My mom, rest her soul, lived  in a small town and did most of her shopping from the Sears Catalogue. She was a regular -birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Father’s Day- it didn’t matter, she shopped by catalogue.

And, when things went awry, such as colour not exactly as shown or the wrong size, back it went. No discussion. No questions asked. And that’s why Mom was a Sears’ customer all of her adult life.

Sears Canada still has a catalogue and now, of course,  an online ordering service. Mom wouldn’t have liked that much. They also have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. She wouldn’t think much of that either. She liked talking to the friendly Sears’ representatives, her words, not mine. The thing is, that friendly Sears’ representative lived in the community and still does.

There are more than 1900 catalogue locations across Canada, where you can arrange to pick up your Sears order.  Orders normally arrive in a few days. It’s efficient and easy.

They have a solid brand in Canada, built largely on a reputation of quality and service. I grew up thinking Sears was a pretty good company and my own experience hasn’t changed my opinion.

I don’t have a vested interest in Sears. They aren’t paying me to write this. I just think they do it right.

Can you compete with Sears?

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