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RadioShack looks to spark sales with in-store mobile integration

RadioShack opened its first custom concept store in Manhattan on Feb. 1, leveraging mobile technology to enhance the in-store experience with the hopes of spurring better sales for the company.

The interactive store lets consumers discover new products and connect with sales associates in a new way. Some of the mobile features in the design include in-store tablets that let consumers experience different speakers as well as touchscreens and apps to help shoppers get a better understanding of different products.

“This is Darwinian retail at its best – RadioShack knows it has to evolve in order to survive,” said Jared Meisel, managing partner at Theory House, Charlotte, NC. “While they have strong name recognition, they are considered to be a purveyor of all things past, instead of current technology trends.

“As such, it has more to overcome to get shoppers through their doors than a new retailer,” he said. “While they have the benefit of locations, people don’t associate them with anything specifically.

“RadioShack has to focus on defining their brand, getting people to reconsider them. Part of that reconsideration is defining what they should be considered for – which is what this concept store seeks to do.”

Mr. Meisel is not affiliated with RadioShack. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

RadioShack did not meet press deadline.

Do it together
The concept store is being introduced at the same time that RadioShack is rebranding itself with the slogan “Do It Together”. The concept store carries out this motto by better connecting shoppers with sales associates in a more collaborative way.

The store features a speaker wall that can be controlled by in-store tablets to help consumers get a more in-depth feel for the different offerings.

It also contains interactive displays that let consumers compare products. One display lets shoppers compare headphones, another explores remote control toys and a third demonstrates different camera models.

There is also an idea center where shoppers can collaborate with sales associates to bring their ideas to life. Additionally, consumers can learn more about products through touchscreens and apps.

The store, which is located at 150 E. 42nd Street, celebrates the 1964 World’s Fair in a modern way by juxtaposing interesting design elements such as a hanging globe that pays homage to the 12-story steel Unisphere, which stands in Queens as a symbol of the 1964 World’s Fair.

The store is the second custom-designed location to open in the U.S. and the 12th concept store to open in the New York metro area, since RadioShack’s concept stores debuted in 2013. The other custom concept store is in Ft. Worth, TX.

While supplies last, consumers can stop by the concept store to receive a coupon for $10 off any $40 qualifying purchase. They can also check-in on foursquare to receive this limited-time deal.

In-store revamping
RadioShack’s concept store is meant to revamp and reposition the brand. As RadioShack’s sales continue to dip, the company may be looking at in-store design to spark a come-back.

According to a recent Accenture survey, 40 percent of shoppers say the experience retailers need to improve most is in-store, while only 16 percent said online. Additionally, one in five U.S. shoppers plans to increase their in-store purchases in the future.

Enhancing the in-store experience with mobile technology could be able to drive increased store traffic.

Other brands have also been betting on in-store retail design.

Apple was the first to revolutionize store design a few years ago, but other retailers are recognizing that the in-store experience is increasingly about inspiration and finding how products fit into a customer’s life (see story).

For instance, Verizon has been transforming in-store retail design to provide a more relevant and tactile experience for shoppers with mobile devices in their hands. A major part of the redesign was a new layout of lifestyle zones that let consumers try out different mobile devices and applications and fully understand the technology before making a purchase. (see story).

AT&T also unveiled a new store format intended to reflect customers’ mobile lifestyle where café-style learning tables replace cash registers.

“It is obvious RadioShack is working hard to facilitate play in their retail environment,” Mr. Meisel said. “The challenge for all retailers that dedicate more of their space to interaction areas is converting interaction into purchase.

“Shoppers are leveraging mobile technology to compare their options before they enter the store and while they shop — and retailers must embrace this behavior and consider innovative strategies to connect even better with these savvy shoppers,” he said. “The one-two punch of a Superbowl ad and new concept store is a proactive move. It is going to generate some buzz, and hopefully even some new shopping traffic.

“However, for the kind of sales results RadioShack needs, they need to find their position in today’s retail landscape. The challenge of their generalist position means they risk not being seen as an expert.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York