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Sears hops on Alexa bandwagon in move to spruce up appliances

Sears hops on Alexa bandwagon in move to spruce up appliances

The Kenmore Smart skill for Amazon Alexa enables customers to control the Kenmore Smart home appliances by simply asking Alexa.

As perhaps a preview to this announcement, Sears announced last month that its Kenmore Smart appliances would feature Amazon Alexa compatibility.

"The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S.", Sears CEO Eddie Lampert said in a statement. The Kenmore Smart air conditioner are available up to a capacity of 18,000 BTU.

Sears Holdings shares rose 17% on the news.

The retailer has shed more than $1 billion in costs through store closures and other measures and recently sold its Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for the equivalent of $900 million. But the announcement fits in with Sears' effort to generate cash from its Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands by widening distribution outside its stores since a year ago.




"This is consistent with Sears' aim of becoming more of a remote seller of strong brands without the encumbrance of expensive real estate", GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders told CNBC.

The latest deal also allows owners of Amazon's Alexa digital assistant to control digitally connected Kenmore appliances. From there, the company plans to expand to the rest of the country, and hopes to eventually offer two-day delivery for Amazon Prime customers.

"At the same time, Sears Home Services and our Innovel Solutions unit will benefit from the relationship as more customers experience their quality services for Kenmore products purchased on Amazon.com", Lampert added. Home Depot, Lowe's and Best Buy Co. all fell at least 4% on Thursday, underscoring concerns that shoppers will start buying more large appliances on Amazon.

Terms of the partnership weren't disclosed, and it's unclear how much of a boost Sears will get from the arrangement.

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