What is the future of retail, with discounters, online stores and mega chains?
The thought around this blog came from visiting an open mall near the massive IKEA in Richmond BC (recently upgraded from a normal sized a 130,000 square feet location) – across Bridgeport road is the other “mall” which contains Staples, Home Depot and the once proud flagship of technology sales Future Shop.
Now the once busy store stands empty, signs on the front doors advising the location is closed until further notice and there are other stores to serve you. There were once large proud red letters spelling FUTURESHOP above the entrance, these have been removed, but almost as a scoff at its demise – behind the letters the paint remains, weathered by years but not faded out and in stark contrast to once red, now in blue spelling FUTURESHOP.
If you are not a Canadian you don’t know, but its not Futureshop which is there now the long going merger of Futureshop and Best Buy (a US electronics retailer) has concluded with Best Buy buying out all of the Futureshop locations, shutting some down, re-branding others.
But lets rewind back to 1982, the year of some amazing events – including the establishment of the first Futureshop, which later grew to be a prominent Canadian electronics retail chain.
By 1990 it had grown to be the largest retailer of electronics, consumer electronics and computers in Canada. With its peak in 2013, Futureshop had 139 stores across all of the great white north.
Although, there were 139 Futureshop stores in 2013 Best Buy was already in the northern realm of Canada – having quietly bought Futureshop in 2001 and at that time started opening its own Best Buy stores – as this was occurring you could see an eventual merger coming. Especially after 2003/04 when Best Buy and Futureshop nearly mirrored prices and stock, as well as the only different in the advertisement flyers were the logo, colors, and fonts.
One would stay, and it was going to be the bigger name. Best Buy.
This indeed happened in March 2015, with all of the Futureshop stores shuttered and closed overnight, some to remain so forever others to be re-opened as re-branded Best Buy Stores.
Is this something to cry or be upset about, its business and Best Buy just like Futureshop has to survive against Amazons and online retailers of the internet.
What is the Future of retail? Sun has set on Futureshop but I hope retail adjusts and survives and shows that somethings are just not worth buying online. People think these days about killer apps, customer service is the killer app of sales and business, I hope that its not something forgotten and lost and replaced with tapping buttons on your phone and then writing angry reviews that what you had bought was too big, too small, wrong material or completely wrong – when you can just go and see and feel it in a real store and ask questions.
But is it that convenient?