retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Advertising Age has a story saying that "retail giants from Sony, Apple, Samsung and Fuji are betting the future of brick-and-mortar has little, if anything, to do with actually selling product on site. In fact, higher-ups at Sony Corp. in Japan had one demand for its retail outlet located at the base of its new Manhattan headquarters called Sony Square NYC: make it flexible."

That means building an environment that can "accommodate anything from in-store concerts, movie premieres, new product launches, private events to branded takeovers and will be remodeled every four to six weeks.  In essence, it’s set up to do everything but sell product."

Steven Fuld, senior VP-corporate marketing at Sony Corp. of America, describes the mandate this way: "It’s a necessary way to tell the brand’s story about what we are. It gives people more of a reason to come in than just driving down to get the lowest-priced product that sits in a cardboard box in the back."

Now, not everybody agrees with this approach to retailing ... and nobody, I think, would argue with the idea that an "unstore" may be more appropriate for some categories than others.

But I think the larger point is worth considering - that even within retail segments where this concept seems less workable, there may be opportunities to create high degrees of flexibility, move some parts of the experience online, and develop levels of theatricality that can differentiate stores and make them relevant and attractive to consumers.

If you want consumers to go to actual stores, you have to think about how to give them reasons to do so.

This isn't a one-size-fits-all solution ... but at the very least, it is an Eye-Opening approach that retailers need to think about.
KC's View: