Alexa’s link to Kenmore appliances a way to Sears future
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Sears will begin selling its appliances on Amazon.com, including smart appliances that can be synced with Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.
The announcement Thursday sent shares of Sears soaring more than 18 percent at the opening bell.
The tie-up with the internet behemoth could give shares of the storied retailer one of its biggest one-day percentage gains ever.
Sears, which also owns Kmart, said that its Kenmore Smart appliances will be fully integrated with Amazon’s Alexa, allowing users to control things like air conditioners through voice commands.
“The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.,” Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert said in a company release.
Sears has struggled with weak sales for years, and announced more store closings earlier this month, partly due to the emergence of Amazon.com and other internet operators. Sears had said in March that there was “substantial doubt” it could continue after years of bleeding money.
Many on Thursday took the agreement with Amazon.com as a lifeline, with the volume of trading in Sears shares just at the opening bell enormous.
The agreement goes beyond the point of sale, however. Also part of the deal for Sears is delivery, installation and the service work that comes with product warranties, which will be provided by Sears Home Services.
Amazon has changed the face of retail since it became a public company more than 20 years ago. It recently began offering discounts on its Prime membership for people who receive government assistance, making a play for the low-income shoppers at places like Walmart. And it announced last month that it was testing a new wardrobe service that lets members of its Prime program try on styles before they put items on their charge card — at no upfront fee.
Shares of Sears Holdings, based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, jumped $1.62 to $10.30 when trading began.