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SEARS INTRODUCES NEW TERMINALS, KIOSKS IN STORES

 SEARS INTRODUCES NEW TERMINALS, KIOSKS IN STORES
 CHICAGO, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- To further improve customer service


and reduce operating costs, Sears, Roebuck and Co. said today it is spending $60 million for 28,000 new custom-designed point-of-sale terminals and for 6,000 new automated customer-service "mini" kiosks.
 The new equipment will be in all Sears retail stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico in the first quarter of 1992. At year-end Sears had more than 4,100 U.S. merchandising units, including 868 retail stores.
 The new terminals, which will be linked to the company's nationwide data base, will put more customer information and computer power on the sales floor. The cash registers will enable sales associates to provide a wider range of customer services more conveniently and efficiently and eliminate the need for customer convenience centers.
 Sears said it purchased the new cash register terminals from CompuAdd, Inc. of Austin, Texas. About 5,000 more terminals will be placed on the sales floor than are currently being used to accommodate the additional services. Sears also said software for an additional 22,000 existing cash registers on its sales floor will be upgraded to make them compatible with the new cash registers and new computer systems.
 Effective April 1, sales associates will be able to issue temporary SearsCharge cards and gift certificates, look up customer information, and process customer payments at terminals.
 The new "mini" customer service kiosks will be placed throughout Sears stores and feature phones and Sears Catalogs, enabling customers to conduct a variety of business, such as placing catalog orders; inquiring about service, parts and credit; checking on the status of their vehicle in the tire and auto center; ordering flowers; or calling the manager's office.
 Sears said moving customer service activities to the sales floor not only makes transactions more convenient for the customer, but enables Sears to convert more non-selling space into selling space. Sears said that from early 1991 to April 1992 it will have converted some 676,000 square feet of store back-office space into selling space -- equivalent to the selling space of about seven average-size Sears stores.
 The new technology, coupled with the simplification, elimination and automation of various routine tasks, follows a year-long test. The programs will eliminate about 1,000 full-time non-sales positions and some 5,900 part-time clerical positions by the end of the first quarter, reducing operating expenses by about $50 million annually beginning in 1992.
 Sears said it expects to transfer almost all of these employees to other store positions that currently are vacant or to jobs that will open up in the coming months due to normal attrition. No new jobs will be created, but layoffs are expected to be minimal. Reorganization benefits will be offered to eligible associates not placed in other jobs.
 (Note to local editors: Specific information for each store or region is unavailable.)
 "We continue to make substantial progress in improving our levels of customer service while lowering our operating costs," said Edward A. Brennan, Sears chairman and chief executive officer.
 "Over the past year we analyzed literally hundreds of different kinds of transactions to determine how we could provide service that is simpler, better, faster, and more efficient. Our goal is to make it easier for the customer to shop at Sears by bringing the transaction closer, by eliminating unnecessary reports and procedures and by using our superior computer technology," said Brennan.
 Sears said it also will expand the package pickup area in its stores by increasing the number of associates available for handling merchandise pickup orders, processing large returns and for special customer assistance matters.
 Sears Catalog Announces Tests
 Additionally, Sears said effective Jan. 17 it will begin testing different direct delivery options of catalog merchandise that will affect catalog pick-up areas at 32 U.S. stores. The tests are designed to improve customer service and profitability.
 "Because of changing lifestyles and shopping habits, more of our customers prefer direct delivery of merchandise to their home, workplace or other locations rather than picking up orders at store catalog desks," said Everett L. Buckardt, president of Sears Catalog. "Direct delivery also helps us cut our costs," he said.
 Buckardt said the tests will be conducted over the next several months to determine what changes might be made. Customers in test markets are being notified of the changes by mail and will be reminded of their delivery options when placing catalog orders.
 -0- 1/7/92
 /CONTACT: Gerald E. Buldak of Sears, 312-875-8371/
 (S) CO: Sears, Roebuck & Co. ST: Illinois IN: REA SU: PDT


JT -- NY036 -- 7278 01/07/92 11:21 EST
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Date:Jan 7, 1992
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