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Sears banks on iPads to help big turnaround effort

by David Needle

January 3 2012

Sears had a rough 2011, culminating in last week’s announcement that the venerable retailer plans to close over 100 U.S. locations. But the company is betting on iPads and other Apple devices to help its big turnaround effort.

Retailer Sears would probably love to carry Apple’s hot-selling iPad and iPhone from the iPad. But while that’s not happening the struggling retailer sees value in putting Apple devices to work. 

Sears Holdings CEO Lou D'Ambrosio, who joined the company last February, told Bloomberg News he’s implementing a plan to distribute more than 5,000 iPads and 11,000 iPod Touches to track inventory and customer orders. D'Ambrosio is a former tech executive who worked previously at Avaya and IBM. 

"Everything starts with knowing what our customers want to buy and how and then delivering that across platforms," he told Bloomberg. The Apple products will be used to help managers gather more information about customers' buying patterns and product preferences and to ramp up Web operations.

And there should be plenty of information to draw on. D'Ambrosio says Sears technicians make 17 million visits to customers' homes each year and communicate even more frequently with shoppers online and on the phone. 

Sears last week said it plans to close as many as 120 locations after same-store sales slipped 5.2 percent in the eight weeks that ended Dec. 25. The shares plunged 27 percent on the news, the biggest drop since April 29, 2003. 

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