Aug 21, 2009

Old Farts Don't Get It: Why Sears and GM Continue to Fail

The other day I saw a screen capture of a Sears product page with a suspicious category description (Consumerist).
Sears quickly fixed the error, but the problem was that the entire Sears website was built in a slipshod way that allowed goofballs to mess with the category descriptions. If you've ever messed around with history in wikipedia, imagine the fun you'd have with a whole Sears store!
Everything was fun and games until Sears ordered Conde Nast, owners of Reddit, to delete the post that pointed out their incompetence. With this being the Internet, that just blew up into a whole new level of Sears hatred. Go to Reddit and search for "Sears"

Which leads me to my thought. Old Farts Don't Get It.

Sears could should have left that up there. Except, then they should have personalized it for YOU. Like an Amazon page. If you want the circular blades to be called Big Fuggin' Circles That'll Cut Ya' - cool. That's your personalized site! You've interacted with Sears. Looked at their product. You might have even shared that with your dopey friends. Then they could have logged into their own Baby Grills in the Human Cooking Sections. Now they're having fun, but also looking at the great price of those Craftsman tools and BBQ's. Maybe they'll (shock) buy something?

But instead, the legal team jumped in front of an opportunity and pissed off the Reddit crowd..."Remember when some Reddit posters organized a boycott of Glenn Beck advertisers and had him thrown off the air? yeah, those were good times."
...and then someone puts that on too, and suddenly it's on someone's twitter and facebook page, and pretty soon it's here on Blasphemes - followed by a news cast and finally in newsprint the following day. That's the Social Media Revolution in the smallest of nutshells. And Sears just stepped in it.

But Sears has NO idea what that is. Or what could be. Or how to sell or build on it. Hell, they can't seem to attract people into their stores anymore. Or K-mart either. Both companies are joined together now intertwined in a retail death spiral. The combined company, Sears Holding Corp. has just less than the buying power of Wal Mart - but still hasn't figured out how to make that work for them. Instead of adopting the Wal Mart strategy of hub logistics and value pricing they continue to be big, bloated, discombobulated, and dumb. I think it's funny that Wal Mart drank Sears and K-mart's milkshakes... especially since Sears and K-mart invented their brand of retailing!

One would expect that Sears, which was built on the catalog would have been an early adaptor of the internet and internet sales business models. They should have been buying Amazon in 1994. They could have had bricks and mortar for grandma, and could have linked their inventories to some massive database center in the Sears Tower. Instead, they hired a second rate web guy? I mean, the security hole was that you could change the category values in the URL, and they'd show up on the page. Hey, at least they have a web site. Montgomery Wards refused to get into that whole 'web thing.' Wonder how that worked out for them?

Meanwhile, there's GM. GM is an old fart, wearing a hat, driving slow in the fast lane. And doesn't get it. GM is 101 years old. It's too old and still doesn't understand what is going on either.
GM has actually been bankrupt since 2006 and avoided filing until 2009 thanks to the backs of banks and bondholders who propped it up by profitable car loans. Their management team that got booted by Obama came from finance, not vehicle design.

They also made pretty crappy cars. They couldn't compete with Toyota. Toyota ate their whole lunch. They also ignored Toyota and Honda. Except for the Saturn, but they let that get fat and bloated too. They failed to innovate. Why bother? All the money was in financing.

But I think their biggest failure was that they failed to win over the Gen Xers. There was never a discussion or marketing, or that 'one cool ass car' that got the Gen X American kids interested in GM. They LET those customers walk out of the dealerships. Those customers discovered and became loyal to GM's competitors. Once a customer took the test drive, why would you go back to a GM?

Look, even the staunchest Made In The USA folks I know have finally conceded, and now will never buy another GM car. It's over. And even these guys can justify their new Hondas and Toyotas by rattling off all the manufacturing plants -- in America. Their only regret is that the management in Japan is making all the money. I stop them right there and explain that good management deserves ever dollar that they earn.

And why they'll fail again? GM has had no dialogue with Gen X. So far, they don't seem too interested in Gen Y either... Wonder if they'll get enough bail outs to last that long that this misstep will even matter?

But GM getting a Twitter account isn't going to suddenly turn their fortunes around - but they did try selling cars on eBay not too long ago. How's that working out?

The thing is, Sears/K-mart and GM are examples of Old School Big Business. Big, bloated, over confident, more managers than innovators, management that is risk averse and is incapable of understanding or working in the current market conditions.

See you in the history books! Well.... bye!


alphaa10000 said...

Reddit, in the evolutionary scale of the internet is only one step ahead of 4chan.

Downvote all you want, assholes!

lucy_jew said...

sears is for power tools. or just tools.