Radio Shack as a Platform
A blog from Digital Tonto, referenced below, talks about the fact that successful offerings are not just products, they are now platforms that support value-added ancillary products and services. These ancillary offerings come from a supporting ecosystem and often add considerable value to the original platform. Think Apple. And Facebook. To quote the Digital Tonto “A competitive product is no longer enough, you also need pervasive platform.”
I was always fascinated with the ZAGAT business model, and Zagat is a platform. Now we have Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Tripadvisor, and even Zagat as digital and mobile platforms.
This train of thought and the downward spiral of RadioShack – see the article in Business Week this week – raises the question of whether the retail industry can benefit by being regarded as platforms. If Radio Shack had thought of themselves as a platform for the electronic/digital customer experience, could they have evolved and prospered? With 7000 locations they could have evolved from resistors to CB Radios to HiFi, then moved to mobile phones and, currently, the Maker movement and 3-D printing labs.
At least two things would have helped Radio Shack – management who saw the handwriting on the wall and a brand name that was extendable. Brands that are too explicit – Pizza Hut – make evolution and adaptation more difficult. In the old days we called this concept brand extensions, but the brand has to be extendable or at least have the potential of being repositioned.
Can Sears be rebranded or repositioned as a platform for value-minded customer experiences? J C Penny? If so, they also need to make the customer experience enjoyable. Think of places that you actually like to shop. In my case it includes Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Wegmans, and the Apple store. The list does not include Sears and JCP. Or A&P.
Or Radio Shack…