The Uplifting Power of Human Interaction
A former railway station master named Richard Sears founded a mail-order business in Chicago in 1893 after he recognized that rural America offered a vast market. With little knowledge of business, finance and systematic operations, he tapped into the market with his marketing flair. Julius Rosenwald who joined the company recognized the need to be reliable in order to win the confidence of conservative rural folk and retain the market once it is captured. He introduced clear, factual descriptions of each product in the Sears catalog, and established the policy “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back” in 1895. This policy that was based on the values of trust and reliability was highly instrumental in the growth of the fledgling mail-order business into one of the largest retailers in the world. To Sears’ flair for marketing and Rosenwald’s high ethical standards and keen insight into the needs of the market was added the mastery of operating systems in Otto Doering. Doering added the moving assembly line into retail operations, and the confluence of these three stars created an alchemy that resulted in a 23-fold growth of the company over twenty years.
Each man introduced an innovation and added a unique value to the group. Sears used a new delivery system to reach the customer with mail order catalogues. Rosenwald brought the values of trust and reliability, a psychological innovation. Doering brought in efficient logistics. Later, they were joined by Robert Wood who related all of these with the changing development of society – the rapid spread of automobiles and spreading of people from urban to suburban areas. Wood started large retail stores in suburban markets and malls, attracting the growing American population that was settling down farther and farther from the cities thanks to their new cars. These four different phenomena collaborating in space and time created the greatest retailer in the world for eight decades.