After months of testing -- and significant changes along the way -- this week Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) has finally officially rolled out a program in which it will ship merchandise for other online retailers, according to a Dow Jones Newswire story.
The "Fulfilled by Sears" service was originally "soft launched" last September, and was originally designed to draw more sellers to the chain's Sears.com Marketplace by providing warehousing and fulfillment services for products sold on that site. The final version of the service lets online merchants sell from their own websites and forward product and shipping details to Sears for fulfillment.
That differentiates what Sears is offering from services like Fulfillment By Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), which works only with the E-tail giant's own Amazon Marketplace sellers. It also puts Sears in better position to offer services such as same-day delivery for products that are in a fulfillment center near the purchaser.
The more merchandise Sears ships from its fulfillment centers, the more cost-effective such special delivery services will be -- and it's clear that there won't be enough volume coming just from Sears E-commerce to make that work.
Like several other Sears and Kmart experiments, Fulfilled by Sears has a bit of a throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks flavor. Does Sears really know what it's doing in third-party fulfillment? Maybe not. This E-commerce fulfillment service does feel a little less improvised than previous scattershot efforts such as drive-through pickup of online orders at a limited number of Sears stores.
And that's good. Sears needs to experiment a little less wildly and make adjustments quickly. The fact that the new fulfillment program has changed significantly since its first incarnation means it's paying close attention to what works and what doesn't, and making adjustments fast. Too many bricks-and-mortar retailers complain about the threat from E-commerce, but aren't willing to try something new. Sears is -- in fact, it's trying a lot of somethings new. Now we'll have to see which, if any, of them stick.
- see this Marketwatch story