Sears Wants To Be Your Social Networking Friend

Corporate veteran hires online startup to help increase sales

By Matt Bartosik
|  Monday, Jun 8, 2009  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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Sears Wants To Be Your Social Networking Friend

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The corporate giant has hired a downtown-based startup to help build its new website featuring message boards and user reviews.

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Sears Holdings Corp., a corporate icon based in Hoffman Estates, has been in business for more than 100 years because of its ability to adapt to customers' needs and societal trends. As online communities like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube make an increasing presence in people's lives, Sears decided it was time to update how it advertises and sells merchandise.

For help with its new perspective, the company turned to Viewpoints.com, a River North-based startup founded in 2006. The free website allows members to rate and review products, including everything from cars to electronics to movies.

Viewpoints.com features "I am" tags, which readers can use to learn more about the person writing the review. For example, a car review from someone "tagged" as an experienced mechanic will have a different scope than that of a first-time car owner.

MySears.com and MyKmart.com are set up similarly. Shoppers will be able to gather reactions and reviews from other customers before making a purchase. Sears is hoping that the new websites will help build community, gather feedback, and (perhaps most importantly) reverse the 93 percent decline in profits.

The new partnership is expected to be a win-win for both companies. Viewpoints.com is hoping that the Sears contract is the first of many with other Fortune 500 companies and major brands.

"Having run Internet companies for a long time," Viewpoints CEO Matt Moog told the Sun-Times, "I hold the core belief that if you invest in a leading-edge technology platform, you have to think broadly about how to leverage that platform."

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, is a bit of a social-networking butterfly.

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