The 'new' RadioShack features in-store mobile integration

RadioShack (NYSE: RSH) is riding high following a big win on Super Bowl Sunday. The retailer has a new tagline, a fun new marketing campaign and a new prototype complete with in-store mobile integration.

In case you missed it, RadioShack's Super Bowl ad poked fun at its own outdated stores and image. When an employee gets a call that says, "the '80s called" and "they want their store back," a cast of characters from the 1980s -- Hulk Hogan, Alf, Kid 'n Play and Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Rhetton break through the doors, grab old goods such as VHS players and computer monitors, load them up in a GMC Pacer and drive off into oblivion. In the end we see a modern retail store and the brand's new tagline "Do it Together."

The chain is also testing two new store concepts: one evident in the New York prototypes opened in the second half of 2013, and another the company is calling a "low touch" concept.

              RadioShack is updating to a sleek new look

"Low touch" stores reflect a cleaner, brighter environment; visually appealing open floor plans with low-profile fixtures; powerful brand statements around ownable business categories; improved product placement – with headphones, speakers and digital fitness greeting customers at the front and mobile phones displayed by manufacturer with accessories along the wall; a generous DIY section to serve the Maker movement; fresh new merchandising featuring lifestyle images; and a more refined product assortment.

The in-store speaker wall allows shoppers to interact and control the experience with tablets. Touchscreens and apps are leveraged to enhance collaboration between shoppers and associates, while interactive displays help with product comparisons for headphones, cameras and remote-control toys, a RadioShack signature product category.

The store, which is located at 150 E. 42nd Street, is the retailer's second prototype in the New York market. RadioShack also operates a custom concept store as part of its idea center at its Ft. Worth, Texas headquarters.

Can RadioShack reinvent itself, again? The odds are against it, this is a retailer that no longer occupies a solitary niche. Specialists, mass merchants and Amazon all compete in this very crowded space and it's difficult to see how a throwback like RadioShack can compete. RadioShack does have some strengths, however.

There's the large installed store base in neighborhoods and malls across the U.S. coupled with new interactive retail environments that are another benefit. RadioShack's strength is providing a place where shoppers can get answers and assistance, and find parts not carried in the bigger box stores. Better exploiting this could help.

And lets not rule out RadioShack's legacy as a mobile retailer. It was among the first to sell mobile phones — at one time RadioShack sold more mobile phones than all other retailers combined. If RadioShack can harness this sales expertise and build a solid mobile retail platform that exploits these strengths, well, RadioShack could get interesting.

Of course, RadioShack could have a lot fewer stores to remodel. The retailer could be closing up to 500 locations, according to the Wall Street Journal. RadioShack has not confirmed the report.

For more:
-See this FierceRetail Editor's Corner
-See this Mobile Commerce Daily story

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