Sony: Shuts Stores, Opens 'Kiosks'.. A Good Move?

Written by Oonagh Reidy     08/02/2013 | 02:41 | Category: INDUSTRY

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Yesterday, Sony Australia announced it was shutting its Sony Centre NSW stores at World Square and Drummoyne and adopting a kiosk retail strategy.

Sony said the move was in response to the "changes in consumer behaviour," and will focus on an extension of the Sony Vaio 'kiosk solution' already operating in Westfield Chatswood and Bondi Junction.

It said retail kiosks were part of its NSW retail strategy and it is not clear if the move will affect the seven Sony Centres in other states. Westfield's website still lists just these two locations for Sony.

"Sony Australia remains committed to pursuing direct retail avenues and locations that will meet the needs of Sony customers," it said in a statement.

"This retail model, offers shoppers the opportunity to get hands-on with Sony products in a flexible, high-traffic location."

Acer too are adopting this kiosk strategy and have several in Sydney already including Westfield Bondi Junction, as CN revealed last week. But Sony is also said to be recruiting sales staff for kiosks in NSW, and is likely to expand beyond just Chatswood and Bondi.

Sony Australia was not available for comment at the time of writing.

A Sony Chatswood store worker we spoke to this week blamed the store demise on lack of footfall: "we just don't seem to get the traffic here."

Read: Exclusive: Sony To Close Sydney Stores

So, is it the right move?

There is now a big trend towards pop-up stores and the move "makes sense" for retailers such as Sony to go direct to the consumer and "interrupt their path to purchase," says Telsyte analyst Sam Yip.

Customers can still experience the goods (at the kiosk) and make a purchase online or via mobile right there and then at the location.

The path to purchase is "rapidly changing" - such kiosks can interrupt the consumer even when they are not thinking, Yip believes. With a physical store, a consumer has to actually go there and think about all the different brands, products.

Traditionally, this purchase path started with ads, then a consumer went to a retail store and got the item delivered - now its retailer to consumer.

"Retail is moving online and mobile. It doesn't make sense for retailers to have a permanent store anymore" says Yip.

The Apple Store is a 'destination' but there's no denying online sales are rapidly increasing.

Big brand Samsung too is advocating a retail destination strategy and is said to be planning to open 12 demonstration stores in OZ, as exclusively revealed by CN.

A Samsung source said: "We are now looking at larger stores where can demonstrate our full range of products, we need to show TV's communicating with our tablets, PCs, smartphones and our home theatre kits. We need to demonstrate our cameras and appliances".

Samsung Australia was not available for further comment.

This gung-ho direct selling strategy following up from the Sydney CBD store opened last year, after it originally opened a pop up store to promote the Galaxy S II, to counteract the mayhem around the launch of iPhone 4S at Apple Store.

Sony stores will cease trading Sunday 3 March.

Maybe its a case of: Big brands = shops, Struggling brands = kiosks.