...Kaytronics in Southampton is still open.
The window of opportunity for traditional bricks-and-mortar consumer electronics retailers to catch up with web-based and supermarket rivals has closed and many more will go the way of the dinosaur. So says channel beancounter Canalys, which predicts others will follow in the footsteps of monolithic consumer outlets such as …
I would put it down to unbridled greed and lack of training to staff.
Pay peanuts...get monkeys.
And yes, the extended warranty scam whereby they reaped billions over the years, playing on the insecurity of sincere buyers. Never invested a penny of it in extra training and product promotions, hoping punters will just keep coming in, ready to be fleeced.
Best Buy wanted a slice of the pie and spectacularly failed, instead of piling em high and selling em cheap, which ws thier mojo back in States. Fry's is doing ok though, due to prices.
Pcworld still seliing USB cables at £24.99. WHat hope , then?
Deserve to fail.
>Pcworld still seliing USB cables at £24.99
That about sums it up.
Price gouging, greedy and inflexible.
Worse still, when I have gone with a family member to help them choose a telly, the big electronics retailers rarely have the item in stock anyway.
I look forward to a resurgence of the local independent electronics retail store. (Like the one mentioned about in Southampton - is that on St Marys St by any chance?).
I can remember always wanting to go into PC World in the late 90s early 00s when I was near one of there out of town shops. I haven't felt that desire now in almost a decade. They never had the range of on-line parts suppliers like ebuyer 8 years ago, and were also more expensive back then.
I suppose at least when they vacate their retail outlets we could fill it up with something useful like food shops. Maybe convert them to housing :)
I think the current squeeze on spending on the middle classes, who would have been the biggest consumers of new TVs and computers is the major reason. The onliners are probably having a hard time too. In a recession you still need food and energy. The four year old TV / computer still works.
Bloody hell, can you imagine living in a converted PC World! That'd be mental! You'd decide to redecorate the flat and behind a layer of plasterboard discover loads of Windows 95 user manuals and overpriced printer cables in the wall cavity!
That will actually happen in 50 years time on an episode of Sarah Beanies Property Ladder if she's not dead from asbestos related illness caused by too many dodgy flat redevelopments by that time.
Actually Best Buy here in the states is bleeding to death by doing the same moves that killed Circuit City, by firing all the decent salespeople, gouging the customers on even the most ordinary items (Last time I went in they wanted more than $20 USB for a 4Gb flash stick when they go online for $5) and sticking the customers with bad choices and worse service.
I went to Best Buy in Aug of last year to get a netbook. the BB had sold my nephew a nice laptop at a decent price that while higher than online they threw in a few small things like a cleaning kit and carrying case so that along with the knowledgeable staff made it worth it. But what did i find when i got there? they had fired ALL the sales staff that knew what they were doing and replaced them with workers so clueless their answer to every question was "uhhh" and it was obvious that they were told to "push what they have" even if it wasn't anything like what I needed, like saying a 17 inch Celeron laptop could be just as portable as a netbook! So I went to Tigerdirect, found a nice AMD dual core netbook for $350 USD and had it delivered in 3 days. and that price includes an upgrade to 8Gb of RAM and a carrying case!
So goodbye Worst Buy, can't say as I'll miss you. Your return policies are horrid, the Geek Squad is a bad joke, your sales staff is pathetic and your choices badly limited and prices insane. I may not be able to try before i buy at someplace like tiger or Amazon but the reviews tell me enough to know what's what as I found out with my new Asus EEE netbook, just love how powerful and portable that little baby is.
Here in the Netherlands Dixon's (which wasn't much of a highstreet retailer here anyway) has been relegated to a shop-in-a-shop at Vroom & Dreesmann, a chain comparable to Marks & Spencer's or Woolworth's and for the past decade teetering on the brink of total collapse itself. Others have gone under already, or have merged and then gone under.
The only electronics and household goods retailer that seems to be doing well (as in: still opening new stores) is MediaMarkt/Saturn.
Once upon a time I got useful information from clerks in stores. But the clerks got dumb and useless. Then the selections declined. And frankly although I never had issues myself, BB earned their moniker Worst Buy through bad customer service.
But you're right too. The online shops benefit from freetards showcasing the brick and mortar stores then spending their cash with the pikers who haven't invested in the real estate to show you their wares.
Somethings I don't need to see before I buy, like the next book from an author I like. Other things I like to see before I purchase like a new flat screen telly. Frankly, when I wanted to browse books, I was far more likely to go to the local Borders than Amazon. The experience had better real-time feedback. Although I will say Border suffered some from cutting back too much. Normally I'd buy 6 to 10 calendars for gifts and friends at Christmas time. This last year the selection of stuff I found acceptable was so low I only bought 2 for gifts and none for myself.
Yes they when they come up and see you read the card and look at the back have the decency to not to read the card back to you and make it obvious they don't even know what its for.
Its scary in a PC & TV shop when they don't know what DLNA is.
How hard is it to supply all the staff with a tablet with a decent knowledgebase on? On their down time which having seen in their footfall is pretty long they could try reading some technical manuals.
The only advantage they have is you can look at the kit and ask them questions face to face. As above they rarely have stock.
So build on that.
There is a little local hi-fi shop in Stamford that is run by a handful of blokes who know exactly what they are talking about. They will show you all sorts of entertainment stuff working together in the shop, deliver it to yer house and connect it all up - including taking a brick cutter to the wall, burying the cables, and skimming and painting the wall afterwards.
If something doesn't work, they make it work. If a customer says "it doesn't work" their first assumption is that the customer is right, not an idiot. If something stops working they are usually there within the hour, and will only charge you for new parts, not their time.
They sold the first Plasma TV I ever saw, routinely install DLNA systems, and will sell you a linux micropowered server instead of leaving a PC on all day. Their first love is hifi, not 7.1, and certainly not oxygen-free cables with arrows on the side. Go in for a DAB radio and they will try to persuade you to stick to FM unless it is clear there are stations you know you want.
They have been in business more than 30 years and I expect them to be there in 30 years time.
Curry and Dixon both moved out of the high street in recent years. There is one of the megashedds on a nearby estate, but I don't know which one as I have never been in it, and judging by the car park no-one else has either. When we had the snow that end stayed unsullied till the thaw.
Give it a few years and the manufacturers will have to open up showroom stores, with demonstrators rather than sales people, so people can jab their products before going home and finding the cheapest online supplier. Obviously the rent of these places will have to be subsidised from revenue gained by shipping their stuff to Amazon et al.
I don't mean like the current Sony / Panasonic stores which seem to employ the sleaziest sales people available.
Nobody wanted to touch those horrid devices. Apple knew that and built a brand that feels good in your hands and is easy on the eye.
Now the kit is so homogenous there is very little useful advice which can be given. "Will it play games?" (how good is the graphics system?) is about the only question a non-techie would be interested in. A supermarket or John Lewis will do fine for low and middle spec systems.
Rows upon rows of overpriced ink-cartridges are not fun.
1. Pay peanuts...get monkeys. And warranty scams
2. where will I be able to go to actually _see_ and touch the goods, when the world's worst such as [enter name of major pathetic electronics retailer] goes down, at long last? Yes, you don't need to fondle a barebone hdd (unless you are into some kinkier side), but to see what a screen looks like (instead of those suprimposed images online). To try out a keyboard, only to find out that 99% of them - fail? Peak around that laptop? Test that touchscreen? Weight that camera in hand, to find out that the "perfect balance and grip" - it is not?
Back wall of my local Tesco (one of the Tesco Extras mind) has a lot of TVs and they're switched on.
My local Comet has lots of TV's and they're switched on too.
But in Tesco I don't get bothered by spotty Herberts after their commission and I can buy my tea to eat in front of the new telly should I buy one. And I can use the Tesco poitns asa little bit extra discount albeit paid later.
The logical answer is that the sheds convert to technical clubs. We pay £20 per year membership or a tenner for one entry then test and play as much as we like.
Notionally we return home to order off the internet, but the club could supply at competitive prices, out of stock or for collection.
I can understand the sheds having to charge high street prices. It is odd that they maintain the same prices for their internet sales. Pixmania is a part of Dixon, and mostly the prices are the same as the stores'. And Argos which does not let you examine before purchase has the same prices too, although you can return anything no questions asked.
This is by no means a new phenomenon - and it has nothing to do with the internet.
Even 20, 30 years back; probably even further, people were going into "hi fi" showrooms, asking about stuff and then going down the road to the box-shifters and buying it for less (generally much less). Even in the 80s and 90s it was hard for a specialist shop to come up with a reason why customers should pay top-price, when usually the only value-add was "and this one comes with OXYGEN FREE CABLES" and their opening question was always "how much have you got to spend?"
I can't say I'm sorry they're going, or gone. While it was nice to go into the back room and talk bollocks to a pretentious nerd: about phase-shift and "a slight brightness in the upper-mid range", it was nothing more than entertainment and no-one (well: almost no-one) took it seriously unless they were majorly maths deficient and couldn't tell a deci-Bell from a cucumber.
The same principle applies to pretty much all retail durables, desirables and consumables. Unless there's something unique and well-defined that makes highstreet shopping worth more than buying from a commoditised or internet outlets, there's little reason to keep them around.
Adapt or die.
Online, you can find stupidly high res photos of any new tech that you will want to buy these days.
In store they will be be annoyed if you tell them you want to look inside the box. In places like PC world the actually go to the trouble of wrapping plastic bands around boxes just so you can't do this.
Unless there is a version out on display, it'll be harder to see it in store than online so that is pretty much an invalid argument really.
I got a voucher for christmas, my god it was impossible to buy something, all they had was cheap tat and ended up with an MS wireless keyboard and mouse set (I actually wanted a wired keyboard but they were some unspeakable brand name) but meant I got rid of the voucher. Sales clerk was useless, all the prices were muddled and in a small font making it hard to make out what it was and the price (Sales Clerk clearly didn't know himself). The useless sales clerk said give them this number at the till and then swanned off to chat to his colleagues (>_< sort out shelves lazy gits). Thinking maybe I would get something free no its just a thing they use to claim they helped (Next time I'll make the number up). Previously working for Special Reserve I really hope I wasn't like that.
Retail strategists have known this was going to happen for at least a decade. I remember reading a paper from Jupiter or Forrester (I forget which) maybe as far back as 1998 saying exactly this. If you're a specialist selling an easily subsitutable commodity product, you're ultimately doomed. Nothing that's happened to DSG, GAME, Zavvi etc. etc. is a surprise, and the success of Apple stores is an aberration only because they've managed to make their commodity product have the illusion of a premium (and scarce) product.
A few short years from now you'll only be able to find electronics on the high street in Supermarkets and Department stores (and the odd manufacturer store trying - and probably failing - to emulate Apple), and even in those stores its unlikely you'll actually be able to walk out the door with the larger items, it will be a single display item and home delivery.
You don't even need to be much of a specialist. Bookshops have been going this way since Amazon got going and even fairly big high street stores are feeling the pinch.
Quite a lot of what is sold in supermarkets could go the same way, except that it is usually the supermarket's own "home delivery" arm that is picking up the business. There are certainly plenty of people who only buy the perishable stuff when they are in the store and use a (less frequent) home delivery for things like bog-roll. If it's mass produced, it doesn't need to be hand-picked. If it doesn't need to be hand-picked, you might as well save yourself the petrol driving to the shop.
Clothes stores will be next. The high street will remain as a point of presence where you can be measured up accurately and fondle the materials. Actually getting something your own size and in the colour you wanted is then just a matter of placing the correct internet order, which is satisfied with just-in-time manufacturing. This eliminates all sorts of overheads *and* improves the experience for people who don't actually enjoy spending hours trailing round shops failing to find anything that is in the right size or colour.
By the way, if anyone is thinking of patenting this business model, just stop. It's bleedin' obvious and (now) non-novel. Besides which, I *want* this to happen so I clearly don't want some patent troll to grab the rights and stop anyone else from doing it.
Except for fresh food. I love Brum's food market, you can haggle, buy strange vegetables, and deal with barking mad exhibitionists. And it is about half the cost of a supermarket. Worth it for the entertainment alone.
Alas, under threat as some idiot wants to demolish the wholesale market and build office space. As if there isn't a square mile or so empty already.
"Actually getting something your own size and in the colour you wanted is then just a matter of placing the correct internet order, which is satisfied with just-in-time manufacturing."
The ONLY way custom bespoke just-in-time manufacture can possibly work is if the manufactories are located in the same country...
Sadly, the benefits of computerised custom manufacture have yet to be seen as all our plant has been outsourced to the far east and it gets manufactured on a long cycle with a slow boat from China for the delivery phase...
Sometimes there's a piddling little part that you *need*, immediately. You can get a USB cable at walmart. An IDE-to-SATA converter or one of those VGA cables that hangs off a video card is rather harder.
Without physical vendors these will be almost impossible to get on demand. But you can't run a business off of nothing but techie-emergencies. Bah.
There is a tiny little mobile phone shop in our tiny little town where I can by a USB cable for under 2quid on a sunday or a microSD card for online prices.
We have a 2-man computer shop that repairs old base stations and will sell you a hard disk for the same price as amazon if challenged. You want a 700 quid i7 with a terrabyte disk and stupid amount of ram? be ready for you tomorrow morning sir. and, no, you don't have to have it with Windows.
They had 70 quid android tablets in the window 2 years ago.
"[Y]ou can't run a business off of nothing but techie-emergencies."
Apparently you can if you diversify enough. There's a local PC/electronics shop that sells anything from disco lights to Maplin-type kits to hard disks and VGA cables. When asked about e.g. low ESR radial polarised electrolytic capacitors they hand you a thick catalogue to choose from, and ask how many you want. Bless.
Most PC shops aren't like that though, in fact I've avoided most of them since the 1990s (the incompetence of PC salespeople is of all ages).
Good customer service, product demonstrations and other things that truly took advantage of meatspace have gone by the wayside over the years.
Now we have extended warranties fleecing customers, products that cannot be seen outside of their box, overpricing of goods, and "that must be ordered in sir"
No wonder all these stores are in trouble.
When you combine all this with the petrol and constant hikes in town center parking fees to be able to shop no wonder people choose to go with a cheaper option AND have the item delivered to their door!
Soon the only things you will be able to buy in town centers are clothes and a coffee from costa or starbucks.
Don't believe in karma, but there does seem to be an element of poetic justice in seeing the more egregious rip-off merchants "getting theirs" after gouging the customers all this time.
There's simply no excuse I can think of, for a certain UK electronics retailer (clue: it rhymes with the surname of a very famous silent-movie comedian who often played a tramp in a bowler hat) to sell a serial-USB converter cable for £20 (£15 "on sale"), which a three-minute Amazon session could get you for £4 including delivery. Perhaps they forgot to add "hand-forged by magic dwarves and steeped in unicorn blood for three weeks for better data transmission" in the catalogue, but surely no amount of "overheads" can excuse a 400% markup?
Where the company (as distinct from the employees) is concerned: to paraphrase Douglas Coupland: I'm looking at my Sympathy-O-Meter, and the needle ain't twitchin'.
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who remembers when Maplin used to keep a wide range of components and the like (as opposed to the sorry selection in later years). The same thing happened to Radio Shack in the US (think Tandy, in the UK).
Oddly enough, Radio Shack recently announced its intention to go back to its roots and start stocking more components & hobbyist stuff. I'll believe it when I see it, though. My last interaction with the kids in our local store went something like this:
Me: So, where do you keep your components?
Oik: The TV cables are over there.
Me: No, I mean like capacitors.
Oik: Capacitor? What network is that on?
I think I found your problem: "...with the kids in our local store..."
When I was a kid and went into the local radio shack, there were two clerks. One was a 20-ish geek who knew everything about their new TRS-80, complete with data recorder and B&W screen. The other was the grizzled veteran of vacuum tube testing, and soldering capacitors and resistors. You needed both to make the store work. The old guy could process your computer order but couldn't really help with the details. The young guy could process your components order, but was useless for knowing what you needed for your ham radio or other electronics project. But between the two of them you could do everything and one could run the register while the other helped a customer.
Of course, fixing it involves a bit more than just putting them back in the store. First of all you need to fix the idiots who took them out to begin with (probably in the doggie sense of "fix" too).
Even Tesco are good for nothing more than being a showroom for the online retailers.
Well, that and buying a PS3 at 11 o clock at night...
What I did notice when buying my last telly was that they're not interested in price-matching other local retailers, never mind online retailers.
Recently bought a gadget from Tesco. Went wrong after about 6 weeks. Took it back and found that they have a strict "no refund / no replacement" policy on electronic goods.
Stuck in the store for an hour talking to their "tech support" wonks.
The "repair" option involves sending the item away (for up to 28 days) and I was told I may well get a refurbished unit back in its place. 2 weeks later they hadn't even sent the returns envelope.
After a lot of phone calls and emails I badgered them into giving me a refund.
I won't be buying any more electronics from them.
Many will raise the rule of "no refund/no replacement" - they do so because most punters are not aware that such practices contravene legislation. I advise would advise everyone to make themselves aware of the Sales of Goods Act and the requirements of this in terms of repair, replacement or refund.
I've stood my ground and always won.
Yep, nothing like arguing with some spotty little Saturday jobber and his manager when something is broken and their nasty little chain won't do the correct and legal thing, take the piece of broken cack back and refund my money. "Sorry but you have contact the manufacturer, nothing we can do about it.". "No I don't! You are the retailer, you have the responsibility to deal with faulty goods!".
The correct way? Amazon, Sainsbury's to name but two places, "It's broken? No problem, refund that immediately for you sir!".
Richer Sounds made a profit certainly, but mainly off the back of cost cutting and their pre-tax profit was actually down (from 2.7m to 2.1m - which isn't much for a 50 store chain). Like everyone else, their gross revenues declined and have actually been in decline for a while. I like Richer Sounds and I think they do what they do very well, but they're still subject to the same pressures as everyone else; declining revenues and generalist rivals happy to work on single digit margins. I don't think Richer Sounds are going to escape the inevitable.
From what I've seen, supermarkets gouge for accessories too - any kind of audio cable or extra is about 5 or 10 times the ebay/amazon price. I once wanted a cable to connect an MP3 headphone socket to the 1.5mm jack input in a car - a fiver in ASDA, without even the promise of gold contacts or any of the other upselling bullshit.
I just pinched the old tape lead from the ZX spectrum in the attic, job done.
A few weeks back I took my other half to Currys/PCW for an SLR KIT. She has very petite hands so really wanted to handle the cameras and find something comfortable.
All was well until she actually wanted to switch a few of the display models on. They were all flat and the assistant said that this was because head office don't send them enough power leads to match to the anti theft devices.
No matter they said, go take half an hours browse else where and they'd charge the cameras. We returned 1/2 hour later to find they couldn't find either the battery or the charger for any of 5 cameras and didn't seem too bothered about it.
Piss poor. The one advantage bricks and Mortar have is to allow you to try before you buy and DSG threw it away. If she'd been able to try the cameras we *would* have left £7-800 lighter.
As it was we didn't.
Ah, but internet sites are no better.
Find what you want. Click.
Proceed to checkout. Click.
Oh, you want me to register, which means creating a password-protected "account" so that you can claim to have an ongoing commercial relationship with me and send tons of spam about offers. It will take five minutes to fill in all the personal information you seem to need. THEN, and only then, will you let me give you some money.
Find new site. Click...
People who are happy to only buy from supermarkets or Amazon are short sighted idiots.
One only has to go into a Tesco (or Sainsburys) and see you don't nearly the selection in games or DVDs (or anything that's not food) that you get elsewhere. They're not actually cheaper half the time either.
And to think that they'll actually give you a fair deal when you have even less options to choose from is laughable.
So if the future were to be a place without specialist stores I think we'll see it be harder to get unique or fresh content. It'll be yet even more safe and dumbed down content.
Amazon may be big but it's not big enough to support innovation and experimentation on its own. But I guess if the extent of your tastes are things like Pop Idol and Radio 1 music then you're fine.
Wal-mart has clearly been damaging to the US. I'm not sure why anyone would invite that sort of business model over here. But I guess paying a couple pounds more is unacceptable in exchange for more variety.
We'll all be too busy arguing over who's the greatest corporation ever anyway.
"Amazon may be big but it's not big enough to support innovation and experimentation on its own..."
having used Amazon happily since 1997, I would say their innovation has been an exemplar to all online suppliers. No overnight rebrands, organic and intuitive introduction of features, and a steady emphasis on informing the customer as much as possible.
I remember years ago - damn, 33 years ago now? - there were independent smaller electronics stores that were driven out of business by these 'mega stores' - Tandy, Dixons et. al.
I recall my dad getting miffed by the fact that his favourite electronics store was closing - he was a keen amateur electronics enthusiast and bemoaned the fact the staff of the new stores were clueless. Back then, he moved to mail order parts.
Now we see these mega stores themselves bugger off, giving a chance for smaller independents to sell online.
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