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Q&A: Sears’ mobile strategy

The Hoffman Estates, IL-based retailer will market a wide variety of merchandise on Sears2go at, its mobile offering that is powered by Usablenet (see story). Here is the Q&A with Tom Emmons, team leader of mobile/ innovation at Sears Holdings Corp.

Why the need for Sears to go mobile?
We saw an increasing amount of mobile traffic on, but the experience was not the greatest. Customers were turning around quickly, and not converting at all.

We wanted to give our customers the best possible mobile experience, by focusing on what they needed.
Who are you targeting?
We are targeting people on the go. More and more of our customers are relying on their mobile device as their primary means of email/Web usage, these are our target customers.
Can you buy? What sort of merchandise, if yes?
For Holiday ’08 we have products from the following categories: apparel, electronics and computers, fitness and sports, jewelry, tools, toys and games on Sears2go available for purchase.

Other categories will follow next year.
What makes this site unique from other mobile sites?
We believe the usage pattern from people on the go is best served by providing a simple, fast experience that enables them to find and buy products with minimal distractions.

The way people shop on their phone is much more surgical than on the Web, people want to get in, transact and get out. 
There will also be additional ways to get people excited about specific products and deals that will land them closer to the products they are looking for, thus reducing the number of clicks they would need to go through on a mobile device.
Where does mobile fit within Sears’ multiple channels? 
Mobile will play a complementary role to support our multichannel strategy. Users navigate across various channels and mobile can provide them with additional information and commerce capabilities.

Customers can leverage mobile to bridge the digital and print worlds with the stores, enhancing the in-store experience, and as a separate “on the go” mobile channel.
How important is it for retailers to have a mobile presence?
We know from our customer analysis, a mobile presence is increasingly important.
What else are you doing on mobile?
Based on customer feedback, we are evaluating and implementing richer mobile capabilities.
What are you doing to promote the mobile site?
Mobile ads, commuter-targeted marketing, Web advertising.
Your expectations of the mobile site? 
We expect that Sears2go will become increasingly relevant by month, as more and more customers adopt a mobile lifestyle where the mobile device is their primary Web/email access point.