Will Sears be the Next Facebook?

Huh? Sears and Facebook in the same sentence? Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Well, it’s true. Sears is gunning to be the next Facebook. It is integrating various social networking functionality into the shopping experience.

Sears may have been a boring old company in the past, but it is reinventing itself for the future.

Is this Social Shopping thing a good idea?

I think it is a great idea. I can see many reasons that it could work. It’s true that there are a billion people on Facebook. But there are 5 billion more who aren’t. Many of the people who are not on Facebook could be well served by Social Networking on Sears.

Maybe people who are less interested in technology and the internet shop at Sears.com. They shop at Sears.com because they are used to it and they trust it.

Another reason that it is a great idea is that the local retail business is shrinking every year. People don’t buy that much stuff at the local store anymore. And they are buying less each year. How is a real-world store going to stay in business when the volume is shrinking each year?

The best way is to build its online store. And, to find ways of leveraging its reputation and history into a new and exciting value proposition. I think that Sears social shopping may achieve this lofty goal.

Remember Barns and Noble? Who goes to a book store? The only reason most people go is to drink a coffee and sit around for hours. Do you think that they are going to make any money by selling one coffee and one book (at most), while each person takes up space for hours? Soon nearly all physical book stores will be gone.

The people will lament, “It’s not fair. Amazon killed the book store.” Not so. The customer killed the book store. Most people are not willing to go to a book store and pay more money for something that they can buy 100 times faster and 50% cheaper online.

I think Sears may have been on the same track. In fact, Amazon has expanded to so many products that you can buy many of the same products that Sears sells from Amazon. That’s why this is such a great idea. It gives people a good reason to shop at Sears.com.

How many companies complain that they are suffering because of the economy? It is so easy to blame other people and forces for our problems. But guess what? Sears is in the same economy! I wonder how many companies that are “suffering because of the economy” launched a social shopping site.

Will it work? I don’t know. How could anyone know? You never know until you try. But there is a good chance for success. And, if you think about it, the investment is relatively small. Much smaller than opening a new store, I imagine. And the return will be realized much faster as well.