Around 2001, I recall talking with a lower-level
I remember asking about the Alan McCullough era — the chief executive who succeeded Rick Sharp. The lower-level executive, who shall remain nameless as he isn't really the point, told me that “all the wrong people got promoted.”
This was an awful time at the electronics retailer. A staffer had committed suicide by jumping off a balcony, and the company was furious at our newspaper, Inside Business (former sister paper to Style Weekly), for running the story. In addition, we were publishing story after story about problems with the company and its stock price. It is now close to a penny stock, around $1.70.
It was all sad, because we liked
By 2000, management didn't get what was wrong. One day the store was selling CDs and DVDs, the next it wasn't selling appliances. Stores were redesigned. Signage changed.
Some disagree, and think that the era of “sell it cheap” won't work in an era when Wal-Mart rules. I disagree. It's a challenge to buy electronics at Wal-Mart, and for bigger-ticket items, buying one at the same time I'm worried about drippy packages of hamburger meat just doesn't do it. In addition, because of the square footage, Wal-Mart can only sell so much. Most
A few suggestions from a customer who has observed the company for the last 30 years:
1. Push loss leaders. Emphasize a minimum number of loss leaders in every category, with handwritten signs. Like the furniture chain IKEA (it has “impossible” prices), the pricing strategy of
2. Emphasize more “crack” products. In the store's heyday, they sold products that would lead you to buy more. A stereo system could start with a receiver, and then you would buy additional pieces. Today it works with things like the iPod. If a customer buys an iPod, you show them the multiple things they need to go with it.
3. Stop all branding and marketing.
4. Stop the pushy sales folks. They creep people out. We recall going to a store fairly recently and the goofus who was trying to sell us something followed us around. It was desperate, and it came after the commissioned folks were sent bye-bye (though some might have returned). In the old days, the commission folks were a little eager, yes, but they weren't desperate. But if pushy has to stay, please allow them to really haggle. It's no fun to have a Turkish market if salespeople can't dicker.
5. Middle market. Middle market. Middle market.
6. Quit the CDs, DVDs and such, except a few by the door in displays. You'll never compete with Borders and Barnes & Noble. The City also got burned because it pulled an edition of Mad Magazine from its racks that made fun of the chain. (The company later reinstated it). My question: Why does it sell magazines?
7. Sell anything plugged-in. Sell appliances, big ones. Sell small appliances and electronics. Sell toasters, and other things you plug in. As I recall,
8. Sell appliances again. No, don't sell the Sub-Zero refrigerators (see No. 5). Sell entry-level pricing for cheap ovens, refrigerators, etc. Certainly the delivery system doesn't accommodate them very well, but deal with it. Setting up a bargain-basement appliance department will allow for new types of foot traffic. Anytime someone moves, they need new appliances. Husband goes into the store, sees pretty HDTVs and gets diverted.
9. Encourage subvendors inside the store. Are there other leased businesses that can operate inside cavernous
10. Take advantage of the new technology. The upcoming television switchover is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don't miss it. Ditto with HD radio. I would love one, but have never been enticed or sold on it. What would get me in? Price. S
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