Adweek on Radio Shack RFP

Radio Shack Invention LabWe caught a fascinating piece on Radio Shack (NYSE: RSH) in the most recent edition of Adweek.

Radio Shack has put out an RFP for their advertising account. One bit of Andrew McMains’ story caught our eye:

Online shopping, per the RFP, has not only made consumers more price sensitive, but has commoditized the customer service provided by Radio Shack because questions can be answered online. While the company still emphasizes the knowledge of its store associates as a selling point, this has created a “brand relevance challenge,” per the RFP — one that will need to be addressed by its agency finalists.

“The amount of information available online has mitigated the need in many cases for a skilled sales associate, especially with younger consumers,” the RFP states. 

A comment from me, the peg board fan.

Having salespeople who know about the product is no longer necessary for youth? First, younger consumers might not need as much information about electronic products as middle-aged folks like me, but they sure do like to TALK about these products to their friends, and you want younger consumers to be in your store talking about the products, and trying them out, fiddling, and selling extra features.

Has anyone from Radio Shack actually been to an Apple Store and stepped back and watched what happens there? Apple is all about expertise, sharing and conversation. It is (was) a veritable electronics snakepit, all ages chit-chatting about the latest features of all the Apple Products. And by-the-by, youth LOVE to show oldsters how to use electronic products. My 90-year-old mother in law just got an iPhone, and she was thrilled to just learn it had a camera. When we suggested a Jitterbug, she was not amused. She wanted to learn the iPhone.

Even for MIT grads, the sheer variety and number of electronic products and manufacturers make it impossible for anyone except the technology over-consumer to figure out how to really use these to their fullest. I would venture to gain that anyone with a digital camera only uses but a few of the settings, and the rest they are confused about.

And what of software, and computer programming, and even simple things like the insertion of a new Ethernet card into the back of a personal computer? They are pretty easy things to do, but you need someone to show you once.

The younger consumer, that 12-year-old boy, wants to do those sorts of things, and Radio Shack was once the place you could talk to the men who could tell you how to figure it out. They have been moving in this direction with their niche advertising website Radio Shack Invention Lab, but obviously they haven’t gotten the message completely. However, the spirit is there. Take a look at this video on how to build a portable USB charger from scratch. Amazing.

We pulled two invention suggestions from their site in order to illustrate the potential.

  • Vibrating Vest for Deaf/soon-to-be-Blind Dog, Charlie Gilman
    I’m writing hoping for some help. I have an albino dog that I love dearly and he’s currently deaf. But already his vision isn’t good and will get worse. I use a vibrating collar right now to teach him commands etc, so I want to make a full vest that has several different pockets where I can place a vibrating motor and activate by wireless remote. ….Please let me know if you can help me out.Thanks
  • The Laser Car, by Sam
    You see, I’m making a laser guided car for the sixth grade Science Fair. There will be a track built up of mirrors reflecting the laser into a guidance for the car. The laser will hit into a phototrasistor….(ETC) ROBOTS ARE AWESOME!!! :>)I almost have the main control circuit finished.

BrandlandUSA Advice: Julian Day. Please go to an Apple Store today and take a look. And bring some excitement back.

3 Comments

  1. They don’t know what they are throwing away. Everyone sells on price, yet Radio Shack survived based on service. Now they don’t have anyone who knows more than the kid at Best Buy. So, are they now going to be the lowest price? Don’t think so. So why would anyone go there? Less selection? Higher price?

  2. Well when the average sales associate makes $7.50 a hour and the managers are so over worked and underpaid (salary starts at 24/yr) avg work week is 6 days 54-60 hours, it’s hard to keep people that know anything, let alone care. It sucks but until Radio Shack pays their people to know the product, Radio Shack will be a black hole for stupidity.

    Between the 15-20 stores in my district last year we had a 45% turnover rate of staff. Would you like batteries with that?

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