I had a conversation late last week with George Coll, who’s running the group within Sears Holdings that developed ServiceLive. We spoke for almost an hour about a wide range of issues such as my question about whether Sears was really serious enough about the online market to “tough it out” with a broad array of online-only competitors and why the Sears brand was de-emphasized on the site.
The two most interesting things (from my POV) about our conversation were the following:
- ServiceLive allows contractors to rate consumers.
- SL is paying credit card service fees for local businesses as part of its payments system.
On the first point about rating consumers . . . This is the only site that does this to my knowledge. In the same way that consumers are prompted to rate service providers they’ve used, the vendors also get to rate the customers. So when a consumer seeks out a job, a provider might see a negative rating of that person and decline to take it (e.g., “He was a nightmare to work for, was never pleased . . . “).
Believe it or not this had never occurred to me before but it makes complete sense and is a great feature for businesses. I’d love to see more sites do play around with some version of this.
The other item is part of the payments platform (ServiceLive wallet) developed in conjunction with the site. Among the things it does is allow consumers to pay with credit cards and allow local businesses/service providers to accept payment from those consumers without having to directly accept credit cards. Sears pays any service fee associated with the card transaction and the money is deposited into the contractor’s account. Consumers can also have money drawn from their bank accounts directly.
Coll told me to think about the payments system not as an “escrow account,” they way that I had described it, but like a gift card. Regardless of the metaphor, this payments infrastructure that ServiceLive has built is not well publicized but it’s arguably the biggest differentiator for contractors.
Here’s my original post about ServiceLive.