The very least I could do
In an effort to be more of a producer and less of a consumer, and being inspired by Andy Ihnatko’s “The very least I could do” series, I am going to attempt to write something each week and share it with all of you.
For the inaugural effort, I’ve got a two-parter on something I’ve given a lot of thought to recently: the fate of Radio Shack.
This past week I’ve come across two very different plans for saving Radio Shack, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. In part one I’m going to discuss how Radio shack could be the “Apple Store for everything else” and in part two, I’ll discuss how Radio Shack can re-embrace its roots and be at the forefront of the maker revolution.
Part One: The Apple Store for everything.
The first plan to save Radio Shack comes from MG Siegler, at his blog parislemon. He argues that Radio Shack should become the Apple Store for everything else, with a smattering of cool new technologies like 3d printers.
Displaying “The Best”
I really think this could work, provided Radio Shack has the discipline to display only “The Best”. There are so many products I wish I could visit a store and feel and compare in person. But they’re made by different companies and sold primarily online, so I just pour over dozens and dozens of reviews hoping to find what works best for me. How much better would the experience be if I could spend at least a few minutes with an actual functioning object, be it that new camera I’m wondering about or the screen I want to buy for my computer.
You may be thinking “Best Buy already does this”. Really though, they don’t. The stores are huge, they have tons of junk that isn’t any good, and the staff are nitwits who either accost you or can’t be found to save your life.
Finally, what about showrooming? Well, that’s going to happen, so they might as well embrace it, knowing that it’s an opportunity to get people back into their stores for something. (This is also where displaying cool things like 3D printers and scanners comes in.) As I’ll discuss below, there are also other ways to mitigate the issue.
Doing the rest
A reasonably-priced paid “genius bar” type service only for products that they sell would be a transformative experience for anything not sold by Apple, and Radio Shack stores are the right size and have a good retail footprint to make this a reality. They’re small, and they’re found in most reasonably sized cities in America, far more widespread than even Apple stores.
Apple stores are so successful because they are a mecca of all things Apple products. Want to buy one? check. Have a question about one? check. Have a problem and need it to be fixed? check. It’s one of the reasons Apple products are so successful and have such a wide appeal. Contrast that to typical manufacturer warranties, which are a nightmare to actually take advantage of. Have you ever had to get some kind of service on anything not sold sold at the apple store? It’s a complete nightmare. A total mess. People go for the absolute cheapest because then when it inevitably breaks or has a problem, they can literally throw it away and buy new rather than deal with the hassle (oh the humanity). But it doesn’t have to be that way, and Radio Shack has an opportunity to be the one that changes it.