Nice post, Elena – I’ve highlighted a few comments and questions below:
-Based on Hyon Bin’s post above, it seems that customers aren’t made aware of John Lewis’ unique operating model. Do you think that the company could benefit by sharing this story with customers (e.g., so that customers know why there is a strong employee focus on customer service)?
-You mentioned that other companies in the UK have tried to learn from this. Have there been other companies that have successfully (or unsuccessfully) employed this model? What are the key lessons that other companies can take away regarding implementation?
-Does the company have any plans to expand beyond the UK? If so, what would this type of international expansion look like?
While they could have made the switch to strictly consumer electronics, by the time they realized their current business model wasn’t working it was too late — Best Buy and other chains (such as the now defunct Circuit City) had already established themselves as industry leaders. A change to focusing strictly on consumer electronics would have required a tremendous change in their footprint and required the closing of a large number of stores with the remaining locations moving to much bigger storefronts.
RadioShack would have had an incredibly difficult marketing problem in trying to get consumers to think “RadioShack” when they were in the market for a stereo or TV. If they had successfully redefined themselves there is likely room in the market for another large higher end electronics retailer — Best Buy is really the only player with Sears, Target, Walmart etc. occupying the lower end of the market. Making consumers think “high end” when they think of RadioShack would have perhaps been a herculean task.
There is still a viable market for components and accessories but for the most part it is entirely e-commerce (with some limited exceptions such as Microcenter). I don’t think that there is a high enough density of consumer hobbyists to support a large-scale retail chain for components. If RadioShack wanted to maintain a position as a component seller it would have needed to make a strong push towards e-commerce.
As I wrote in reply to SamJohnson, while they could have made the switch to strictly consumer electronics, by the time they realized their current business model wasn’t working it was too late — Best Buy and other chains (such as the now defunct Circuit City) had already established themselves as industry leaders. A change to focusing strictly on consumer electronics would have required a tremendous change in their footprint and required the closing of a large number of stores with the remaining locations moving to much bigger storefronts.
My suggestion would have been to focus on e-commerce and component parts. Even now there are relatively few high-profile component stores (e.g., Newegg, Monoprice, and others including relatively recent market entrants). While they would have had to restructure their workforce and potentially close out the bulk of their locations, I think that this would have had a higher probability of success than trying to compete with Best Buy in the general consumer electronics space.
1) They do standard suit sizing (FitTech seems more like an interactive size chart than any kind of innovation). I wonder how they will last, long-term, in a marketplace flooded with only moderately more expensive, made-to-measure suiting (IndoChino, Blank Label, Suit Supply etc.).
2) Do you think the high end quality claimed in their marketing is believable, particularly if the target market is high-earning young professionals such as investment bankers and lawyers who may already wear high quality suiting (such as Brooks Brothers)?
3) I wonder if Combatant Gentlemen could benefit from different marketing endeavors such as “pop-up” stores in bigger cities or trunk shows. This would allow customers to experience the product first hand and overcome the hesitance about purchasing a suit (which is typically not a frequently purchased item) when they haven’t seen the quality first-hand. It would also avoid the overhead and high costs of maintaining permanent retail spaces.