Actually, scratch that. RadioShack’s new top management pulled the plug on “The Shack” moniker when they green lighted a brand overhaul just shy of a year ago.
And change was needed. The storied Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer that ushered in the personal computing era with its TRS-80 microcomputer in 1977-once dominating Apple, IBM, Commodore and Wang-had been struggling for years against vertically integrated brands, as well as big-box and mass merchants.
But industry veteran and current Radio Shack CEO Joe Magnacca is working to change that. With more than 20 years in retailing, Magnacca joined RadioShack from Walgreens, where he is credited for the turnaround of its Duane Reade stores. Magnacca in turn recruited Mike DeFazio, also a key player in the Duane Reade reinvention effort, as senior vice president, store concepts.
Last year, Magnacca created a buzz with a fast track plan to reinvent the company. Founded in 1921, RadioShack is one of the country’s oldest retail brands and one of the largest, not to mention ubiquitous. It operates some 4,300 stores stretching across the United States, as well as more than 1,200 international units. The retailer’s merchandise includes 7,000 SKUs-from adapters and antennas to flashlights, batteries, radio-controlled toys and two-way radios-nearly 70 percent of which are private label.
Rationalizing Radio Shack’s assortment was a big part of Magnacca’s vision, although RadioShack will continue to sell mainline brands, such as Apple. “We wanted to become a destination for our own brands, because that will keep customers coming back to just us,” DeFazio says. For that reason, RadioShack merchants are working to source new and proprietary goods.
Magnacca also wanted to pay homage to the brand’s heritage as a place for fun and Innovative products, and a “Let’s Play” platform became the foundation on which to build an advertising campaign, as well as in-store communication. However, both stores and merchandise needed to be embraced by existing mobility customers while wooing women and younger customers who were not Radio Shack loyalists. So, the CEO tamed to New York-based CBX for Its store design and packaging expertise.
The first remodeled RadioShack store opened at Sundance Square In Fort Worth last May, followed by a New York location at Broadway and 81st Street In June. Both concept stores, averaging 2,000 sq. ft., showcase a number of new features to be rolled out throughout the Un1ted States and internationally over time. At the end of 2013, the retailer had made Improvements to nearly every one of its stores, ranging from new paint and graphics in it’s “Brand Statement” stores, which represent its smallest footprints or revenue generators, to major resets that include custom fixturing in the higher-volume
The 2,357-sq.-ft. Fort Worth flagship sports a mid-century modem feel, and has been dubbed a “retro” store. It features an authentically styled “radio shack” inside-a nod to the structure that houses a ship’s radio equipment, complete with retro knobs and dials, and the term that supplied the chain’s name 92 years ago.
Inside, a variety of vintage photos, old radios and technology as door suggest the store is part museum. “It’s all about playing on our name and heritage, while telling a whole new consumer base who we are and what we stand for, ” DeFazio says.
While the Fort Worth store clearly is a customized homage to its headquarters, all stores will eventually feature a refreshed color palette and logo. The former red, black and white palette Radio Shack signature colors-has given way to burnt orange, deep metallic brown and stainless steel. Inside, customers will find a well-lit, visually open store with plenty of room to move, as well as a reordered experience.
The new design is easier to navigate thanks to large, simplified departmental signage calling out “Power It, ” “Rock It, ” “Create It” and “Discover It.” From a product point of view, the store Is no longer overwhelming,” says Joseph Bona, president of branded environment, CBX. “We wanted customers to easily find what they’re looking for, but we also wanted to encourage Interaction with the products, so the displays needed to be
more accessible. ”
Newly configured custom fixtures highlight a wide range of products from mobile phones to flat screen TVs. A conveniently located touchscreen computer allows customers an opportunity to enter their choice of phone or other device, and have their technical questions answered, or learn product benefits. A new speaker wall with a control console allows customers to test any or all speakers 1nd1vidually by playing music from their own Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices. A 65-ln. television allows customers to control the size of what’s displayed (all the way down to 19 in.) In order to give them a sense of how televisions of various sizes will look In their home. There’s also a headphone display with working headphones ranging In style and price, as well as a presentation of several GoPro camera models.
But, it’s not only high touch. Helpful “Texperts” can answer shoppers’ question about RadioShack services and products. There’s also an in-store kiosk that makes it convenient and easy fur customers to order items not in stock. Given its prime real estate, Radio Shack customers can stop by stores to place orders by kiosk for home delivery. And because part of Magnacca’s vision included omnichannel selling, product packaging, already part of the RadioShack reinvention plan took on additional importance. In the months following the launch of the first amped-up stores, DeFazio explains, “We’ve made some tweaks. We feel we’ve done all the things necessary to make it a good interactive experience, a comfortable environment that’s easy to navigate and get around.
Will it be enough to regain a share of consumers’ wallets in the highly competitive electronics sector? Only time will tell, but DeFazio says customers already are showing the love by spending money and driving revenue up in these first remodeled stores. So, when the time comes, don’t call it a comeback-RadioShack’s been here for years.