Based on the lack of chatter about it out there, it would seem that the stunning changes at the website for Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) have gone unnoticed.
Sears is looking to make their site, Sears.com, a "go to" site for all consumers needs, and its 20% plus growth implies they just may be succeeding.
- December 2007 when Sears.com partnered with Alliance Entertainment Corporation (NYSE:AEC) to offer movies and music to its online shoppers. Sears.com now houses more than 250,000 titles
- February 2008, a co-branded site hosted by Digital River. Customers can purchase and immediately download to their PC or laptop software programs ranging from finance,games, security and system utilities.
- April 2008, Sears.com expanded its For the Home Online Store by partnering with ArtSelect.com. Sears' customers now have a complete art gallery and custom frame shop at their fingertips. After finding a favorite art piece, visitors can create a custom finished product by choosing the mat and frame. The design can be viewed against a wall color, saved in a gallery, or shared with friends. Featuring more than 300,000 image options for art prints and canvas reproductions, as well as mirrors and tapestries, the frame shop fits any style of home decor.
- April 2008, Sears.com partnered with Baker & Taylor to offer an online book assortment consisting of more than 600,000 products. Customers can order books in advance of release date.
So, how is the site doing? At an estimated $2.6 billion in sales, Sears ranks as the largest mass merchant retailer online after Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and is the seventh-largest online store in the U.S., according to revenue estimates from online consultants and Internet Retailer's annual Top 500 guide.
Shoppers that visited Sears.com and Kmart.com at least once in February rose 20%, to 14.7 million vs last year. That makes Sears' Web business the 2nd fastest growing site among mass merchants vs 2007, after Costco (NASDAQ:COST) at 23%, according to Nielsen Online.
Sears.com alone drew 12.3 million visitors in February, up 28% from 2007. That makes it fastest growing Web site among retailers, besting Amazon's 17% increase.
When traffic from Kmart and Lands' End is added, Sears Holdings is drawing about 18 million people to its Web sites each month. Only Amazon at 47.7 million, Target (NYSE:TGT) at 22.6 million and Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) at 21.3 million draw more people, according to Nielsen.
All of the above information is from before the new initiatives have been implemented.
Back in January, Jim Barr, previously for seven years the general manager of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) MSN Shopping on MSN.com, was named SVP in charge of Sears’ online business. Then the company said, “Jim will be responsible for leading a new organization focused on innovative business architecture design, merchandising planning/operational development and technology solutions integration.”
Paul Miller, who joined Sears as senior vice president of direct commerce in November 2006 from Williams-Sonoma Inc., will report to Barr, the company says.
Clearly Barr is making fast and dramatic changes to the site and based on results to date, so far so good..
Disclosure: Long SHLD, WMT, no positions in other stocks mentioned