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Amazon's Kenmore Deal Puts Appliances on Path of Inkjet Printers

  • Connected washing machines and refrigerators could auto-order
  • Devices would make shopping for milk and detergent obsolete

The new partnership between Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. presages more than a convenient way to buy refrigerators and washing machines. It also paves the way to a future where consumers can make fast, automatic purchases of groceries like milk and laundry detergent through internet-connected appliances, forgoing trips to the supermarket.

For now, the alliance is primarily focused on distribution: giving the beleaguered Sears a much-needed sales outlet for its Kenmore appliance brand as it shutters stores around the country. Amazon gains a partner to take on such competitors as Home Depot Inc., Lowe’s Cos. and Best Buy Co., leaders in showcasing appliances in physical outlets.