Forty-six Kenmore smart appliances have earned Works with Alexa certification, a specification that indicates compatibility with voice commands from Amazon’s virtual assistant, according to a Sears Holdings press release.
Smart appliances that can receive voice commands via Alexa include washers and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators, among others. This means users of a smart washing machine, for example, can start a wash cycle by saying, "Alexa, ask Kenmore Smart to start my washer," or can receive timing information on a dryer cycle with, "Alexa, ask Kenmore Smart how much time is remaining on my dryer cycle?"
The announcement comes after Sears brand last year launched a line of room air conditioners compatible with the virtual assistant and certified as Works with Alexa. Kenmore also recently announced Amazon Dash Replenishment is available on Kenmore smart refrigerators, allowing new water and air filters to be reordered automatically when necessary.
It has been almost two years since Sears forged a deal with Amazon to sell Kenmore appliances on its e-commerce marketplace, a move which also began the process of integrating smart appliances with Alexa functionality.
To say Sears has been through a lot since then is a massive understatement. The company already seemed to be nearing its last breath when that 2017 deal was struck. Since then, the company declared bankruptcy and earlier this month a bankruptcy judge approved the $5.2 billion sale of what’s left of the company to former-Chairman Eddie Lampert’s hedge fund, which plans to continue operating Sears and Kmart stores.
Sears is far from being out of the woods, but it’s worth wondering if, now saved from liquidation, Sears can accelerate efforts like integrating Alexa into more Kenmore appliances. Lampert seemed especially interested in saving Kenmore last summer when his firm offered $400 million for that unit alone. It took Sears little time after the sale to reboot its Craftsman tool business with a new, exclusive tool collection, so maybe it will apply this same energy into boosting the rest of its brands.
While Sears’ brick-and-mortar fortunes sank in recent years, the smart home market represents a giant opportunity still in its earliest evolutionary phases. Amazon recently has been seen bolstering its position in the smart home market through the acquisition of WiFi company eero and other moves. As the smart home market really gets going, there may be no better partner for Sears to tie its fortunes to now than Amazon.