THE LEGENDARY: Get with the Times or Go Down
Recently, I have began to notice so many huge companies decide to either get bought out by a bigger brand or shut down operation. Some examples of this include Radio Shack, JCPenny, and more recently, Yahoo and Macy’s. Seeing these huge companies close shop has always made me question, how do such big successful brands end up shutting down? Many of these have been such a huge part of our culture for decades and have large followings in niche markets. So where and how did these brands fail?
The fact of the matter is that it’s 2016 and we live in a digital society. Ninety-five percent of what used to be done ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago by going to a certain place or filling something out or buying a particular item can be done online now. It’s just the progression of time and technology. As time goes on, more technology is produced to make our lives a bit easier and hassle-free. For example, Vibe was a popular hip-hop magazine that placed hip-hop artists in the spotlight starting in the early 90's, but shut down production in the late 2000’s due to the demand of music coverage online. Customers began going online to find out about new music instead of reading it in the magazine, since online is where they could also download those artists’ songs whether it be legally or illegally. Nowadays, VIBE has converted completely to its website. The same happened for EGM (Electronic Gaming Monthly) and PC Magazine, and a host of several others.
Retailers like Macy’s, Walmart, and Sears are closing many of their stores due to the competition with shopping online. Amazon has stolen a ton of their customers from the convenience of online shopping. It’s something you can do in the comfort of your home and most of the time it costs much less. Amazon has also rid many shipping costs so most of the time customers are paying little to nothing to have their items shipped via shopping online. But retailers are fighting back hard to stay in the game by putting the same items on their respective websites and offering discounts by shopping at their stores online.
In the clothing industry it’s different because there are niche customers who prefer to go in the store and try on what they want to buy before the purchase to make sure that they won’t have to return it later, whereas with shopping online, if you don’t like what you get, then you’re returning it immediately. I think retailers will have to fight hard to keep their stores open for those niche customers by offering lower prices in store compared to similar items on their online competitors. Eventually, there will only be few because it will cost more for them to maintain all of their stores than it would be to upkeep of their websites and warehouses.
Companies like Radio Shack are just out of luck because they never change with the times. Radio Shack premiered in the 80’s. They sold things like VCRs, cassette players, 8-track recorders, and small accessories like chargers and adapters. But they kept doing that for 30 plus years. They added new products here and there like selling Boost Mobile and Sprint phones in their stores, but no one would go to Radio Shack to buy the new stuff because their reputation was the place to go for antiquated technology, so by then it was too late. Radio Shack was forced to close majority of their stores nationwide because they failed to stay relevant. If they wanted to compete with the big guys like Best Buy, then they should have invested in larger stores and up-to-date merchandise.
Taxi companies do the same. Their drivers and owners are upset with Uber and Lyft drivers because their customers are doing what makes their lives easier. Taxis are expensive and inconvenient. You have to call in and they charge large amounts per mile. If I were the owner of a taxi company, I would create my own app in the city I work in, promote it, and showcase why supporting my local business is not only affordable but better than riding with Uber or Lyft. You have to change with the times.
The point of this piece is that no matter how big a company is no, that’s all it is; it’s big NOW; a trend. If you want to be relevant for years to come, you change with what time gives you. You can’t decide not to go with the flow of things because you want to stay traditional. In business, that’s the quickest route to failure. Find out what’s hot and how your business can get involved in it or else you will be just another Radio Shack.