Does Australia Really Need Retravision Stores?

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COMMENT: Retravision Southern has been placed into administration with several financial controllers tipping liquidation as being inevitable. The big question now is whether there is a retail future for Retravision stores that are steeped in old fashioned retailing practises.The big issue for financial controllers and insurance brokers who recently upped the premiums for vendors after a series of high profile retail failures is whether Retravision branded stores are worth supporting in a market which analysts claim is over saturated with organisations trying to sell consumer electronics, IT goods and appliances.

Several vendors that we have spoken to during the past few days claim that we already have enough retailers in the appliance, consumer electronics and consumer IT market without the need for Retravision stores.

They claim shrinkage is good and that dealing with a smaller number of suppliers, especially ones who have the cash flow and the ability to change their retail model, is preferred in what is clearly a changing retail environment where digital and online is having an impact on bottom line margins.

Today, vendors and distributors are under pressure. They don’t want to take the risk propping up a retail group like Retravision as they are seen by many suppliers as being a dysfunctional retail chain who are “mired” in the past and who struggle to deliver value.

More than a decade ago, Retravision was a strong mums and dads retail brand. Today they are a group of disjointed retail stores that lack direction.

Retravision cater for an older audience who grew up buying their appliances and TVs at a Retravision store, and as this audience dies off their children have moved to retail chains like JB Hi Fi, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman.

These retail organisations are investing in extensive marketing and new retail models in an effort to cater for a new style of retail where a search of a web site or using a smartphone or tablet to place an order is as much part of their buying experience as is walking into a bricks and mortar store.

Today’s consumers wants to buy online; however, a visit to the Retravision web site is a daunting experience. When you log into the site you are prompted to type in your postcode. I live in the 2088 postcode area, what I got was Retravision stores in Swansea, Lake Haven, Toronto and Kingsford instead of Sydney’s North Shore.

When you do get through to the product pages, all you get is a price, a few words and another prompt for a store location that is 100 kilometres away from where I live.

There is no way to purchase a product online for the simple reason that Retravision is made up of hundreds of independent stores who compete against each other. There is no common structure other than a brand name on the front of a store.

Unable to operate as one unified entity, Retravision has become a disjointed group with Retravision Southern who was today placed into administration, Retravision Australia and Retravision WA all pulling in different directions.

The finance director at one major TV vendor told me today that all of the Retravision buying groups were driven by ego with each one trying to outdo each other.

 

They said the groups should have amalgamated into one buying group 10 years ago in an effort to take on the likes of Narta who are not without their own problems.

Mike Smith, a spokesman for administrator KordaMentha said the appointment was not over the independent Retravision stores, which would continue to operate. “They’re all separate businesses,” Mr Smith said”The way forward is up to them. “The stores can buy from other people if they wish.”

They will buy from someone else but they will still operate as independent stores and they will still lack marketing direction and above all marketing clout up against brands like Bing Lee, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman.

The real probability is that it will only be time before another Retravision failure happens, with more debt, more pain and another headache for vendors.

Maybe all the Retravision stores should move to Narta, this would at least give them buying clout.

Then all they need to do is agree collectively on how they will deliver a new in-store retail experience for consumers and above all; a web site consumers can buy a product from. 

Retravision store owners don’t recognise that a lot of washing machines are purchased because an old one has failed. Buying online is quick and fast which is why online stores like Winnings Appliances are growing and Retravision stores are struggling.

They have also failed to invest in their future because of dwindling cashflow caused in part by stock sitting in their stores for a long time, resulting in many stores failing to get access to the latest gear which the likes of Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi rely on to drive traffic.

So is their a future for a disjointed retail group? Not on their present form.

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