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Sears just gave up its exclusive hold on distribution of Kenmore appliances, and has agreed to let Amazon sell them as well.
The beleaguered retailer announced Thursday that it’s entering into a partnership with Amazon. In doing so, the deal will open up sales of one of the appliance industry’s leading brands to people who would never enter a bricks-and-mortar Sears store.
Sears and Amazon are interesting bedfellows. Although Sears’ long-term survival is in question, the Kenmore brand, which sold its first sewing machine in 1913, and its first washing machine in 1927, is currently in 100 million American homes. Amazon is enormously strong among online retailers, but has never been in the major appliances business.
While Kenmore has obvious reasons to be happy with the new arrangement, consumers should also welcome the news.
If you currently own a Kenmore appliance, nothing changes. If you purchased a warranty or protection agreement, you’ll still get services in the same way, through Sears Home Services.
If you want to buy an appliance in person at a Sears-affiliate store or at
When you go to buy a Kenmore appliance on, the product page will look similar to any other product page on the site. During the checkout process, you’ll also be able to buy delivery and installation services, and an extended warranty.
Here's the kicker: All those services will be provided by Sears. Amazon already has a home services network of its own, but nothing on the scale of Sears Home Services, which is the largest product repair service provider in the country.
That's great news for consumers, who can now enjoy the Amazon online buying experience (far better than at) paired with the venerable Sears service for the duration of ownership.
Expect more Alexa-enabled appliances, as well. Kenmore wants to be on the cutting edge of smart technology, and the Amazon partnership will help with that. Already, you can use the Kenmore Smart app with some appliances, and you can control a Kenmore air conditioner by talking to Alexa.
It will be rolled out by geography, starting next week in Los Angeles. Amazon will start offering select items in a test program. All categories of Kenmore Elite, Kenmore Pro, and Kenmore Smart products will be available.
Through this partnership, Amazon gains a major foothold into appliance sales, which outside of Amazon Marketplace, they’ve never touched before. Sears hopes that Kenmore’s visibility on Amazon will bring younger customers into their remaining stores. Customers get the convenience of putting home appliances in their Amazon carts, with delivery, installation and home services, plus protection agreements and warranties.
As Tom Park, president, KCD (Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard) Division at Sears Holdings Corporation said, “The Kenmore brand is, I like to say, America’s most trusted brand, but it’s all designed, engineered, developed, innovated, and managed here in Chicago by the Kenmore team, and we’re really proud of it. Today’s a great day.”
Kenmore confirmed that the products sold on Amazon and Sears will be identical. This differs from a strategy used by some other appliance makers, where each retailer sells slightly different variations on a product, in order to discourage price-matching.
Nobody is talking prices right now, although it’s reasonable to wonder whether Amazon, a retailer that’s never been afraid to slash prices to gain market share, is going to push different deals on Kenmore models, especially with warranties and installations. Currently, the Alexa-compatible Kenmore Smart air conditioner is one of the few examples of a product available through both Amazon and Sears. Pricing was mostly consistent between the two retailers, though Amazon did offer a lower price than Sears on one of the models in the line-up.
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