Let your figures do the shopping

Sears site makes it easy for kids to give input
Sandra Guy

Chicago Sun times


Kids may choose their wish list of back-to-school clothes at Sears with a digital twist:
The retailer's new Web site, Sears.com/e-me, enables youngsters to create online characters called avatars, dress them up, print them out, and share them with friends and parents.

The service makes it easier for parents to buy what their kids want to wear, and lets kids feel they are a part of the process, said Paul Miller, senior vice president of direct commerce for Sears Holdings Corp., and the parent of a 9-year-old boy and 14-year-old twin boys.

Miller created his own "e-Me" character with a mohawk and facial hair, dressed him in U.S. Polo Association clothes, and placed him on a football field so he could do a touchdown dance.

He said Sears' online team got the idea for the avatar because they wanted to show off the retailer's clothing, including hoodies, long-sleeved T-shirts, camo skorts and an exclusive line of Cheetah Girls clothing.

After the avatar's wardrobe is complete, the shopper saves the selections in his or her virtual closet. Parents who bring a printout of the avatar and the closet into a Sears store receive a 10 percent discount on the items in the closet.

Sears worked with My Virtual Model of Montreal and Meez of San Francisco to set up the service. Miller said the avatar model expands upon Sears' interactive services, which include My Virtual Kitchen and My Virtual Laundry Room design functions.

The avatar also reflects the desire of tweens -- children ages 8-12 -- to have a say in their own purchases and to shop at mass merchandisers, according to WSL Strategic Retail consultant's market research.

A WSL study found that 65 percent of parents listened to what their teens and tweens wanted to wear in sneakers, and 58 percent did the same for jeans.