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'Like putting an already braindead patient on life support' – TPN managing director of digital on RadioShack Bankruptcy

By Stephen Lepitak | -

February 9, 2015 | 4 min read

Last week’s news that RadioShack had entered chapter 11 bankruptcy was a long-time coming and The Drum spoke to Manolo Almagro, managing director of digital/retail technologies for retail marketing firm TPN for his thoughts on the development.

RadioShack was long marked for the end – but it seemed to continue longer than many foresaw – was it actually having any success in regenerating the brand?

No, all the initiatives that were undertaken were reactive vs. proactive efforts in a desperate attempt to stay relevant to their rapidly evolving customer behaviour and expectations. It was like putting an already braindead patient on life support. They didn’t invest in continued education in technology for the employees and never fully embraced their new mobile phone business. In the end, it was the mobile phone and accessory business that was the machine that kept them alive. The lack of an overall turnaround strategy combined with failing to rebuild the relationship with their existing customer advocates is what pulled the plug on their breathing machine.

What would you suggest it desperately needed to do as a brand to improve its image?

RadioShack failed to make its most important shoppers care about the brand anymore. It changed the store formats, tried to mimic Amazon and Best Buy’s online business – but never shared how these changes would benefit their customers. They took too long to try to change the shopping experience. The initial lack of focus on the bigger segments of mainstream customers that came in for last minute purchases of HDMI cables and extension cords versus keeping items that only the Hobbyist/Maker community would be interested in, made it even harder to keep relevant, high margin inventory on hand.

How does it continue on as a brand – albeit with small reach - in your view? Can it be a success in new hands?

RadioShack could be successful if it only focused on its niche target - focused on the growing community of Makers and People that need electronics parts, like to print 3D objects, build robots and fly drones. This last ditch attempt is a short-sighted real-estate deal where all stores get turned into Sprint wireless kiosks. They will also face steep competition from the independent wireless service providers that use mall-based kiosks and have lower overhead to operate.

Read here for more viewpoints on the bankruptcy of RadioShack from marketing experts.

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