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What Can We Learn From Sears WebTV?

On Monday “Marketing Daily”: reported that Sears Canada had just launched a new “online shopping channel”:
bq.. Sears Canada is pioneering what could be the future of shopping: an e-commerce platform that combines TV-style shopping programs and online click and pay methods. The new website, “”:, features an on-demand webcast, which links highlighted products directly to online shopping on “”:
The program, still in its pilot stage, offers consumers online informercial-style videos in eight different categories, from women’s fashions to fitness equipment and electronics. The 30-minute videos are hosted by Sandra Gayle, of HGTV’s Design Challenge and include appearances by category personalities like aerobics champion Sharon Mann.
While Gayle talks about the benefits of shoes and laundry machines, the products appear on the right side of the computer screen (outside the video), along with prices and details. Each product name is a link to its featured page on
Frank Rocchetti, Sears’ senior vice-president of merchandising and marketing, calls the initiative “a key differentiator” for the mass retailer.
p. I asked a few of the One Degree team a simple question: “What can we learn from Sears Web TV?”

“Bill”: replied:
Streaming video has gone mainstream: Wow. When a staunchly conservative establishment brand like Sears launches on online TV channel, you know that video on the Web has arrived.
‘TV’ is still a powerful medium: Most of us have grown up with television, and Sears Web TV proves that it can be a great way to convey information in an engaging way, even if it’s broadcast to one person at a time on the Web.
It’s not always about ‘interactivity’: Sears Web TV is not very ‘interactive’ and, in this case, that is not a bad thing. I like the streamlined, focused approach of this. So many companies would try to jam all sorts of bells and whistles into this. Sears didn’t, and I respect that.
Video for the Web has to be shot for the Web: As someone with a background in television production, I’m really impressed by the fact that these videos were shot specifically for the Web. Clearly the producers understand the limitations of streaming video, and how to make the most of them. 99% of the video I see on the Web was not produced with this medium in mind, and it shows. This was. These videos are also an ideal length (2 minutes).
Still, there’s always room for improvement. I think the running time of the videos should be identified upfront so that the viewer knows what they are getting themselves into. I’d also recommend adding a ‘send to a friend’ mechanism and an opt-in email signup mechanism so that users can find out when new videos are added to the site.
“Tara”: chimed in:
When I started watching the RCA Portable DVD player spot, I was instantly reminded of the Canadian Tire television spots I so adore. Certainly, not all products are going to appeal to all people (I wouldn’t be caught dead in tummy control pants), but highlighting specific products in action is a good idea for inspiring customers to purchase.
The only thing that I would change is to make the ‘infomercials’ a little more down-to-earth, perhaps incorporating them into day-to-day life. They could also become a little more interactive (allowing for comments on the spots to be emailed or posted – perhaps other customers have enjoyed the product). Once Sears Web TV starts offering these product spots within product categories, they should do well.
“June”: opined:
First, I had a bit of deja-vu. I’m not sure how long Sears has been using the tagline on this site, “we’re always open”, but it’s one word less than the old (pre-Indigo) tagline “always open” – and in the same font!
My favourite thing on the new site is the workshop. I want those cabinets. The rest? Well, I’m obviously not really the target shopper.
Over all, I like getting to see live video of items when I’m shopping as it provides a more realistic idea of what it’s like over a static image, but it needs to be faster. I can’t see this site being a destination without a lot more product and more entertainment value. They need to go heavier on the home shopping network idea, include more of a demo, and interaction with another human so we’re not watching a talking head (even Rick Mercer non-stop gets a little dull).
I vote A for effort, and C for content.

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