Sears has been an important part of Mexican shoppers’ lives since 1974, when they opened their first store in the country selling general merchandise, tools, home appliances, clothing, and automotive parts and services. After an acquisition by Grupo Carso, it officially became a Mexican company. Today, Sears has more than 90 stores in Mexico.
Like most retailers, Sears knew that many of their customers increasingly used digital platforms to shop on their online stores. Therefore, Sears built a strong e-commerce strategy with a website that reached more than 4.7 million visitors and 3.4 million credit card holders monthly.
Two great challenges: channel unification and an accelerated timeline
Sears and their customers faced two enormous challenges in their shopper journey.
The first was that their customers communicating through many different channels encountered different customer experiences. Each of their varied products and services had equally varied strategies and communication across each channel. They needed to standardize a brand voice and communication strategy across all channels, especially mobile, where their customers spent most of their time.
The second was a global pandemic. COVID19 forced Sears store closures and greatly increased demand for its online channels. Customers still wanted to buy their merchandise, but relied on a high-touch, consultative store experience with Sears’ expert sales force. They needed a way to make their more consultative, conversational in-store experience digital, fast.
Rapidly adapting to a mobile, conversational shopper
To address both of these challenges, Sears and Yalo partnered to create “Sara,” a Sears virtual assistant on WhatsApp. By reaching Mexican customers on an app where they already talked to friends, family, and local businesses, Sara combined the best of digital commerce and in-person commerce all in one channel.
Their new channel and on-brand virtual assistant offered customers a holistic solution: customer service,support, and sales. Sears customers could be assisted by a sales person with the right expertise, talk to customer support, track their order, check their credit or account balance, and much more. All on one channel, all by messaging Sara.
When we had to close our physical stores in the whole country, we faced a very big challenge. We found ourselves in the need to find a channel to maintain the attention and communication with our customers, that is why we implemented the WhatsApp and Yalo Assisted Sales Platform, this helped us to maintain the personalized attention that we gave in our physical stores".
Okairi Díaz - Digital Sales Manager, Sears
Combining automation and a human touch for amazing sales
As Sears’ digital users increased rapidly, Sears met that demand even more rapidly. While they were able to automate answers to customers’ most frequently asked questions, and connect their digital ordering and tracking systems, sales still required a higher-touch experience.
Their success was not just due to automation, but also to the rapid “mobilization” of their team. Their sales force–a team of experts who deeply knew their customers and their product categories–was at home during the pandemic. Yalo quickly onboarded more than 400 store employees to the platform, where they continued to build and deepen relationships with customers, selling from the safety of their homes.
This combination–automation and human sales–was an enormous success: automating many of customers’ needs saved the sales team time and effort, freeing them to focus on complex sales that required their attention.
Scaling and continuing success
Today, Sears has more than 250 senior sales agents working from home, using Yalo’s platform to sell to customers through WhatsApp. This group has an average conversion rate of 11.4%, higher than even the Sears flagship store.
Working with Yalo, Sears met their customers on the channel where they already spent time. As a result, they have a higher conversion rate on WhatsApp than any of their other e-commerce channels, including their successful website.