The One Big Reason Why Sears And Kmart Are Doomed

Between 2000 and 2002, I went to school for my MBA.  I don’t remember too many of the details, but I remember one paper I wrote.  Our assignment was to pick a troubled company and strategize how to fix it.  I picked Kmart.  This was a couple of years before Sears and Kmart merged.

I can’t tell you what I wrote about point by point.  It’s possible that I may have the document saved on an old computer.  Maybe I’ll go look.  But I can tell you that things haven’t gotten any better in 15 years.

Honestly, Kmart, and now by virtue of their 2004 merger, Sears, are a mess.  So why are Sears and Kmart doomed?

The Single Most Important Reason Sears and Kmart Are Doomed

Analysts will through point by point and give a thousand different reasons why this company has continuously failed.  Honestly, thought it boils down to one thing.  One idea.

The company is not great at anything.  

It’s that simple.

To succeed in any sector, but especially retail, you have to stand out.  You have to have an area where you rise above your competitors.  Let’s look at some of the key areas where this is possible, and how Sears and Kmart have failed at each one:

Appeal

A great company has to make themselves appealing.  Shopping at their store (physical or online) has to be something to look forward to.  Sears and Kmart have not delivered this at all.  People may shop there, but there’s no buzz.  There isn’t any enthusiasm.  Simply put, there is no appeal.

Brands

A great store will have brand recognition that is seen as a positive. Think of the Target logo.  Everybody knows it.  When people think about it, many have a positive and happy feeling.  What brand awareness has Kmart or Sears built?  None.  The last time either of them had something like that was the ‘Blue Light Special’ that Kmart was once known for.  Eventually that became a joke, and every revival I’ve seen attempted in the last 25 years has been laughed at.

Selection

A retailer must have a great selection of products to stand out.  Looking at Target, again, they just revamped their entire clothing line.  They dropped many in-store brands in favor of new lines with new products.  They continue to look at what people want.  In addition to delivering the basic products, a successful retailer must stand out in what they offer.  When was the last time Kmart or Sears did that?

The In-Store Experience

A retail store must be kept looking fresh.  Renovations every few years are key so that stores don’t become run down, and it keeps shoppers interested.  But simply remodeling stores isn’t going to do it.  See, over the years I remember hearing multiple times how Sears and Kmart were going to update their stores.  And they did.  But it still failed.  Why?

Because they never did it in a way to stand out.  They remodeled after their competitors did.  And, the remodels themselves were just basic remodels.  People could walk into a recently renovated store and not even realize that it stood out.

Distribution

Customers don’t really notice this except to understand whether the products they want are in stock or not.  For years, Kmart customers were driven away because they were out of popular items.  So, they put in computerized systems.  They installed inventory controls.  Relationships for on-demand delivery with suppliers were improved.  These all sound like great ideas, except, once again, they were installed years after their competitors.  By the time Kmart and Sears finished their upgrades, their competitors were already on the next wave.

It’s Hopeless

Quite honestly, I think Sears Holding is doomed.  It won’t be long before the landscape is free of two once iconic brands.  They are caught in a death spiral, and even if they were to fix everything that’s wrong, I think it’s too late.  People who grew up on the brands have forgotten about them.  People who have never even considered them aren’t going to start now.

I think it’s only a matter of time before Sears and Kmart are nothing more than a page in the history books.

Readers, when was the last time you shopped at Kmart or Sears?  Do you see any hope for them?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Items On Our Money Checklist

Things are pretty stable these days with our money.  This means that we don’t have anything really pressing.  However, just as in life, there’s always stuff to do.  Here are a few items that I want to mark off our money checklist.

Combine High Yield Accounts

I have two accounts that pay better than a normal savings account.  Both had reasons of their own at one point, but now some of those reasons have gone away.  Both pay about the same amount of interest. It’d be one less account to keep track of if we combined the two.  Plus, these days, that’s just one less risk of account fraud!

Switch Insurance

I’ve been with Allstate for twenty years.  Sadly, I think that time is coming to a close.  They have kept raising my rates, this past year over 10%.  All this and I haven’t filed a claim in probably ten years!  They claim they can do nothing for me.

I have a quote from another company that’s about 15% less.  I want to do some research on the company, as well as do some additional shopping around.  But, yeah, it’s time to save some money.

Update My Tracking Spreadsheet

Our finances are tracked in a homegrown Excel sheet that’s evolved over the last 15+ years.  It works well but needs some updates.  I’d like to trim out some old data, streamline some formulas, and simplify some areas.

I know what it looks like in my mind.  I just need to take the time and make the revisions.

Revise Emergency Info

I handle most of our finances.  One of the elements in the tracking spreadsheet are detailed instructions in the event that something happened to me.  It contains account information, locations, payment methods, etc.  95% of it is up to date, but I need to just run through and clean it up.

Review And Update Beneficiaries

Most accounts have beneficiaries noted.  At least I think they do.  I want to run through every account and make sure we’ve set these up and that they’re correct.

Plan A Will Or Trust

I’m embarrassed to admit, with two kids, that we don’t have wills.  We need to take care of this.  Ideally, I’d like to set up a trust, but even a basic will would be a good first step.

Readers, what are items on your money checklist?  How pressing are your needs?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

What Do You Think Of UPS Advertising On Their Trucks?

I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve heard that UPS has ads on their trucks.  Have you seen this UPS advertising yet?

A Matter Of Time

I suppose it was just a matter of time before this started.  After all, there are tens of thousands of these trucks out and about.  Consumers recognize them.  We know what they look like.  For the most part, they’re just plain brown boxes rolling around.  So, why not stick some ads on the sides or up on top?

Advertising presents itself in many ways. The obvious ways are your traditional TV or radio ads.  There are print ads in newspapers and magazines.  We’ve got ads on billboards and on the sides of buildings.  And of course there are the ads all over the Internet.  In fact, many sites won’t even let you read their content unless you see their ads.  (I figure this makes it clear which is more important, ads or content).

Heck, even NBA players will have small ads on their uniforms this year.

So it doesn’t surprise me that UPS has started plastering ads on the sides of their truck.

The Two Big Questions I Have

For me, this raises two big questions.

First, will these ads work?  I suppose they will no more or no less than any other model of advertising.  After all, there have been ads on the sides of buses for decades.  Obviously, ads on wheels must work.  So, I would think that if done right, ads on the sides of UPS trucks could work just fine.

Second, will it lower prices on shipping boxes?  If UPS is selling advertising, it means they’re getting extra revenue.  This has to lead to lower prices, right?  I’d guess that the answer to this is “Not so fast.”  I know that UPS has been feeling the pinch from the increased push by the Post Office to ship packages.  My guess is that the advertising will restore some of the squeeze they’ve felt from the competition.  While lower prices would be nice, my guess is that smaller price increases is about the best we can hope for.

Personally, I guess I have no problem with UPS selling advertising on their trucks.  I find it less intrusive than some of the other advertising we’ve been exposed to.  I just hope it doesn’t open the door to something more annoying.

Readers, what do you think about UPS selling advertising on their trucks?  Have you seen any?  Is it just the start or is it opening the door to something bigger?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Five Money Updates – July 2017

How’s everything going in the money world?  I realized that I’ve been talking more on the lifestyle side of things and not as much as money.  I guess that happens after writing for so many years!  I just don’t like repeating myself.  But we have had some money updates over the past few months.  Here’s a few things going on.

We Refinanced Our Mortgage

We were in a 15 year mortgage with a payoff date in 2026.  This let us pay off a good chunk of our balance.  However, it wasn’t leaving us a good deal of cash flow, so I thought of a refinance.  I wasn’t interested in a home equity loan because of the cash flow issue.  With rates practically the same as our original loan, we decided to move forward with a refinance.  Since we used the same company, we also got $1,000 off of our closing costs.  The process was very smooth.

We Got New Appliances

We’ve been looking at new appliances for a couple of years.  Our fridge space was too small, so we were looking at an upgrade.  We ended up pulling the trigger over Memorial Day.  Sales were really good and we ended up getting a stove and microwave as well.  Why?  So we could have matching stainless steel in our kitchen.  I guess this probably means stainless steel will officially go out of style now after all these years!

Our House Needs Painting

The exterior of our house is primarily brick and vinyl.  But the trim around the edges and soffets is wood, and it’s looking pretty bad.  A number of pieces are rotted, so we need to find someone that can do light carpentry, caulking and painting.  I’ve got two referrals and will be looking for a couple of more.  Hopefully we can get this done before fall.

We’re Going To Mexico

It’s hard to believe but we’ll be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary in September.  It’s been an amazing

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

journey.  We started saving a couple of years ago so that we could do something special.  We never decided just what that was until we settled on a trip to Mexico!  We booked at an all inclusive resort through Costco, and will be using accumulated Southwest points to take care of our airfare.  This is the first trip out of the country together.  In fact, we both needed to get passports, which we recently did!

I Got A Raise

It was nice to get an announcement last week that I’m getting a 3% raise.  That won’t turn me into a mogul or anything, but it’s nice to keep up with inflation.  This is the largest raise I’ve received in a while, so I won’t complain one bit!

How are things in your neck of the woods?  Post your money updates in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.