Sears Takes a Page from ServiceMagic

After to what appears to be a several month contractor-enrollment period, Sears has launched ServiceLive:

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It basically takes the lead-gen model of ServiceMagic or a Matchpoint and adds a reverse auction element. Local contractors are “pre-screened” (criminal, civil and vehicle background checks). 

ServiceLive envisions that eventually contractors will have rich profile pages that look something like this. I looked and there are very few completed profiles on the site. However there’s lots of potential detail there and it appears several ways to search for service providers (including by spoken languages). 

A few comments: 

  • In a troubled economy any additional help for contractors isn’t a bad thing
  • However another site fragments the market further (YP, local sites, verticals, search)
  • The reverse auction is a potential differentiator but may create problems (often a visit is required before a job can be estimated)  

Another interesting element is what the site calls a “ServiceLive Wallet.” Consumers are asked to transfer money or use a credit card to deposit funds with the site prior to the initiation of the job. After the job is completed funds are transferred to the contractor. There must be a contemplated revenue stream in this feature. It’s also probably positioned as a competitive differentiator to contractors (i.e., “we ensure you get paid.”)

For better or worse Sears branding is nowhere on the site. In this case, the Sears brand might give the site more credibility and drive near-term word of mouth. Given the absence of the branding I wonder if Sears is going to use its stores or other marketing channels to promote the site.

ServiceLive offers an introductory and explanatory video featuring HGTV home improvement show host Carter Oosterhouse.

I haven’t spoken to anyone from ServiceLive but one question that comes to mind is motivation. Why exactly is Sears doing this? Is for revenue? Is it to extend the Sears brand somehow? (though the brand is absent) ServiceMagic makes good money but it would take years for ServiceLive to reach those numbers. 

The question therefore arises: does Sears have the stomach to further invest in this, promote it, fix and refine it? It would take such a commitment over a period of years for this to really succeed.

2 Responses to “Sears Takes a Page from ServiceMagic”

  1. ServiceLive Allows Sellers to Rate Buyers « Screenwerk Says:

    […] my original post about […]

  2. HelpHive Aims to be ‘Yelp for Home Services’ « Screenwerk Says:

    […] immediately, there have also been two recent site launches that I’m aware of: ServiceLive (from Sears) and LocalPrice, which is in Atlanta only. And now […]

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