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Amazon in deal with unlikely retail partner

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is staking a claim in the appliance market in a big way in a partnership with Sears Holdings.

The embattled retailer announced it will sell its prized Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon. The deal opens the way for the broadest distribution to date of Kenmore products outside of Sears stores and its websites. Distribution will be nationwide, and Sears Home Services and Innovel Solutions units will provide delivery, installation, and other services.

"We continuously look for opportunities to enhance the reach of our iconic brands to more customers and create additional value from our assets," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. "The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S."

As an added feature, Sears will sync its full line of Kenmore Smart appliances with Amazon's Alexa. The integration means that customers will able to control the appliances with a voice command.

"Voice is a natural interface for the smart home, so we're thrilled that customers can now simply ask Alexa to interact with their Kenmore Smart appliances," said Charlie Kindel, director of Alexa Smart Home. "We're excited that Kenmore has added Alexa functionality to these products and we think customers will love the convenience of cooling their home, starting their laundry, and more, using only their voice."

Sears’ alliance with Amazon is its latest move to remain competitive as more players, such as Best Buy and Lowe’s, among others, continue to crowd the marketplace, stealing more share from the appliance category. 

In another proactive move to take back those category sales, Sears recently introduced a new store concept that caters specifically to the appliance category. Located in Pharr, Texas, the new Sears Appliances & Mattresses stores features interactive displays of top home appliances brands in kitchen vignettes.

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