The digital menu boards serve multiple purposes, said Allison Mayer, business analyst for Sears Automotive's marketing group.
They can be used to feature pricing and promotions on Sears Automotive products and service, but also allow employees to go in and change the content to fit a specific day or monthly promotion.
In waiting rooms, for example, the menu boards can be used as a TV for customers, featuring entertainment segments. "And the best part about the waiting room TV and all these digital signage is that no competitors' ads are on the screen," she said. "It is Sears-specific television, and it's just a way for employees to interact with customers on a deeper level."
At the service counters — which are located away from walls and include point-of-sale screens that can be swiveled for better interaction with customers — a menu board screen hangs above. Similar screens are positioned above the service desk out in the shop.
The screens have a remote device that allows store personnel to select on-demand segments, including calling up videos of the different automotive services Sears Auto outlets offer, Ms. Mayer said.
For example, if the service involves a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), the customer service associate can call up the TPMS segment and show the customer what work will be done to his or her vehicle.
The videos are silent, requiring the associate to interact with customers about the service work involved or why the service will be needed at a later time.
"We have had some language barriers and these have really helped for employees to speak to customers in a more visual way," Ms. Mayer said. "They better understand what they need."
The menu boards are helping Sears standardize the service work process, said John Soule, chief merchant, automotive, for Sears Automotive.
"This gives us a standardized basis for every associate to sell a product or the service," he said. "When they look at TPMS, they are able to follow along and basically stay to approximately the same script, but at the same time personalize the approach for the customer. So that is a huge benefit of the menu boards."
In addition to the menu boards, Sears is simplifying how it displays products in its showrooms.
It has, for example, reduced the number of tires displayed on the tire wall and made it easier to follow, Mr. Finney said. The tires are displayed by category: passenger touring, sport performance, crossover, sport utility and light truck.
"It can be confusing for a lot of customers who come up and see all these tires and not know what makes sense," he said. "Now, if someone is looking for a passenger touring tire, you come right here and it's right here for you."
Sears Automotive has access to all tire brands, Mr. Soule, said, but only the core offerings and best-selling products are displayed—the products customers are most satisfied with.
"So we are much more focused," he said. "We make it much easier for customers to identify two or three options that are best for their needs, and then they can more easily compare one tire to the next using this Sears performance system (which provides ratings and information on the tires)."
Sears Automotive is following the same script with its batteries. Rather than having racks of batteries in all different sizes, the new floor plan will offer one particular sample size in the different ranges available and more information about the batteries.
"There won't be a rack, it will be more of an information center, again driven by interactive displays," Mr. Soule said.
The company also is following the same philosophy by simplifying product displays catering to the do-it-yourself market. These include items such as floor mats, wiper blades, emergency kits, interior accessories and products to do oil changes.
"We've been a little bit more selective in what we've put out on the floor, and we've reoriented everything so that there is more logic, and it makes for an easier shopping experience overall," he said.
Sears will continue to learn as it rolls out the refresh to the initial stores, Mr. Soule added, and will continue to tweak the program as it expands to include additional outlets.
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