Sears hitches a ride with Uber to make rewards plan more attractive
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An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Illustration/File Photo
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By Sruthi Ramakrishnan
(Reuters) - Sears Holdings Corp is partnering with ride-services company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] as the struggling retailer tries to make its rewards program more attractive to shoppers.
Sears is betting on its Shop Your Way loyalty plan, which offers points and tailored deals to members, as the company looks to revive sales. The program accounted for 75 percent of the company's sales through the first half of 2016.
Riders who link their Uber account to Sears' loyalty plan will receive up to $2 in loyalty points for every trip. The program, Rider Rewards, is currently available in Chicago and New York City, and will be rolled out nationally soon, the companies said.
While new drivers who sign up to drive with Uber through Shop Your Way will get up to $1,000 in points, existing Uber drivers in some cities including Chicago, New York City and San Francisco can also earn points by enrolling in the program.
Sears, which has not reported a profit in five years, has made the Shop Your Way program the focus of its revival strategy, even as it shrinks its store base to reduce costs.
"We are looking at more and more ways where we can reach out to top-tier brands and find more opportunities where our members can earn points," Leena Munjal, senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail at Sears, told Reuters.
The company declined to disclose Shop Your Way's membership count, but said it is in "tens of millions".
Other Shop Your Way partners include daily deals website Groupon Inc, florist 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc and identity theft protection services provider LifeLock Inc.
Uber, founded in 2009, has grown in leaps and bounds to become the largest ride-hailing service in the United States.
Sears' 638 Auto Centers will also serve as one of Uber's preferred maintenance providers, offering exclusive discounts and points to Uber drivers, the companies said.
Sears' shares were down about 3 percent at $10.85 in morning trading. Up to Tuesday's close of $11.20, its shares had fallen 52 percent in the last 12 months.
(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)
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