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Death at Sears, Best Buy, JCP Hurts America

Stocks in this article: BBY JCP SHLD AMZN TGT WMT SBUX AAPL

If you observe retail in these settings, you witness considerbly more success than failure. And it comes in across the spectrum, from small and local business to mega chains that become part of the community.

Struggling physical retailers such as Sears and JCP need to find a way to capture that fabric and claim part of it as their own. In other words, they need to reinvent not only themselves, but a segment of space within the thriving sub-sectors of physical retail. This isn't to say they abandon everything that's not on an urban shopping street. It's just simply one aspect of a reorganization that absolutely has to contain more than cutting prices and slashing expenses.

Employees of technology (and related) companies drive the economies of the types of places I'm talking about. And that's apropos. Because traditional retailers must take a page out of Starbucks' and Amazon's book and start thinking like tech companies. This means hiring tech visionaries, not retail lifers. But that doesn't mean looking for the next Jeff Bezos.

Amazon has already disrupted physical retail to the point of decimating it. Brick and mortar cannot merely look to recreate Amazon's magic or ride the wave of the new world Amazon created.

That is, after all, at the heart of a Sears or Best Buy strategy. They say it themselvess when they talk about driving online sales and allowing consumers to shop via any platform they desire. Or when Sears refers to a rewards program -- a weak Amazon Prime knock-off -- as an example of radical transformation.

These guys need to vision a new way forward. They need to devote all of their resources not to stabilizing and, subsequently, making the misguided decision to preserve the current business, but to conceiving something different from but just as game changing as Amazon conceived in the late 1990s.

It's not within the imaginative capacities of the present regimes in big box retail to take on such an admittedly extraordinary and next to impossible task. They require new blood. People who understand the Amazon way, but aren't going to just feebly mimic it.

Follow me at TheStreet and on Twitter because I intend to pick this conversation up where we have left it off. I'm already writing the next piece that will continue to push things forward. We're taking it to retail hard. And believe me, they're listening not just to me, but to your loud and constant reaction. 

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks. Rocco Pendola is a columnist for TheStreet. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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