An Obituary Authored a Year Early
It’s a rare thing to witness someone writing their own obituary. Yet, that’s exactly what we saw a year ago during the Super Bowl when RadioShack ran a series of commercials about how the 1980s called and wanted their stores back.
The ads were an admission by RadioShack that they had lost their way. They demonstrated that the executives at RadioShack understood that their stores really hadn’t changed to stay relevant to consumers over the years.
Yesterday, Bloomberg issued a report that RadioShack was in discussions to liquidate a big part of their company and sell some stores to Sprint. Wall Street halted trading on RadioShack’s stock yesterday as shares precipitously lost value. And, it now appears that the death of this American icon is imminent.
In the world of “could’ve beens”, RadioShack is a retail heavyweight. At one point, they had more stores within a short driving distance of U.S. consumers than any other retailer, offering incredible leverage for how consumers might choose to shop their stores. They had a very viable opportunity to lead the consumer electronics industry in the early days of personal computers, mobile phones and other high-growth technologies. But, they were never able to live up to that opportunity. Instead, they left flexible online merchants and hungry big-box retailers to lead the industry and watched as their stores became a place without real meaning for consumers.
Truth be told, Radio Shack is hardly alone here. Many retailers, including big names like Sears, GAP and Staples have been enacting similar stories—failing to demonstrate how or why their brand and store has meaning to today’s consumers. And, as a result, many are closing doors. But, lest anyone think this is just a brick-and-mortar problem, in today’s world where consumers literally have the retail world at their fingertips, it’s critical for all retailers and brands to understand how and why they’re relevant to consumers. It’s the era of the Everywhere Consumer, who can shop when, where and how they please 24/7.
Goodbye RadioShack. Thanks for the memories. It’s hard to imagine the retail shopping malls and strip malls around the country without your brand. And, for those brands and retailers watching RadioShack on their final lap, it’s time for a harsh valuation of why you exist, why you matter and how you can escape a similar fate as consumers increasingly take control of the path-to-purchase.
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