Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart stores, announced this week that the company would soon enter the digital video marketplace by selling and renting videos on Sears.com and Kmart.com. The new service, dubbed Alphaline Entertainment, is scheduled to go live later this year on numerous devices including HDTVs, Blu-Ray players, notebooks and in 2011 the iPad. With so many players in the movie-streaming business Sears has to set itself apart -- and it plans to do so with in-store setup and tie in pricing promotions.
Unlike many services that require the end user to download an app and configure a service, Sears will handle that for you. "We offer an integrated solution to customers, where, when they buy their TV from Sears or Kmart, we can actually set up the service in store." Elliot Becker, Sears vice president and general manager for consumer electronics told WalletPop. He added: "So, when they get home they don't have to do anything but literally press the buy button." Granted, many users are able to perform the setup on their own, but people like my parents and other technology-challenged consumers may appreciate this extra touch.Price promotion, with an emphasis on promotion, is another way that the new service will attempt to stand apart from Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, Netflix and others. Alphaline will focus on offering specials based around events; much as Sears and Kmart do in a retail environment. For example, according to Becker, when Diehard 5 is released, the digital versions of the first 4 Diehard movies may be discounted, just like the physical copies normally are. Becker was quick to point out that Alphaline Entertainment isn't planning to be the cheapest place for movies, but rather a place where sales and promotions are common.
Becker says the company understands that some "customers want access to their content not in a physical way. They want to own it digitally or rent it digitally." This understanding will help Sears and Kmart deal with the struggles of pricing both physical and digital media which at other companies and in other industries has led to higher prices on digital goods than on their physical counterparts.
When the service launches it will be available as an app on devices made by LG, Sharp, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and RCA. Consumers will not need to purchase the device from Sears or Kmart in order to use the Alphaline Entertainment movie service.
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