Sears: Gunning for the Geek Squad?
Is the Maytag repairman preparing to drive The Geek Squad off the road? Ummm… Maybe. Sears Holdings — yes, that Sears — is beta testing ServiceLive.com, an online services marketplace where all types of independent contractors can bid on projects. Yes, the service includes an area for IT pros to bid on consumer and small business work. Here’s the scoop.
According to the ServiceLive.com Web site:
Founded in 2007 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation, ServiceLive has spent the last year recruiting and conducting background checks on the best service providers in the country across a wide variety of home services — from handymen and home electronics pros to plumbers and computer experts.
Hmmm. That mention of “computer experts” caught The VAR Guy’s ear. But can Sears really build a national online marketplace where computer repair pros bid on customer contracts?
Frankly, The VAR Guy doesn’t have an answer to that question. Regardless of Sears’ strategy, ServiceLive.com will face an entrenched rival in the IT space. Specifically, OnForce — an online marketplace that covers the U.S. and Canada — already has 13,000 IT pros bidding on service engagements. Plus, the OnForce platform has managed more than 1 million transactions since launch. It’s sort of an eBay for VARs looking to bid on projects.
For ServiceLive.com to compete, the marketplace will need IT pros plus plenty of customers who want to outsource work to the channel. Developing that balanced ecosystem — where IT project demand and supply grow hand-in-hand — is no small feat. But Sears seems determined to give it a try. The ServiceLive team attended the recent CompTIA Breakaway 2009 conference in Las Vegas, an indication that ServiceLive may lose the Beta tag soon.