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Staples, RadioShack Revitalizing Stores

NEW YORK – National CE chains Staples and RadioShack are revamping their stores with new merchandising categories and multichannel capabilities to drive increased traffic and sales.

The latter has opened a new store prototype here that features live, interactive displays and merchandises key products by brand in order to inject fun and excitement into the shopping experience, as reflected in RadioShack’s new “Let’s Play” tagline.

To that end, products from core brands and carriers including AT&T, Apple, HTC, Samsung and Verizon are highlighted within dedicated displays, while redesigned fixtures allow customers to more readily find, compare and test-drive products. For example, a new wireless speaker wall lets shoppers demo different models by playing music from their own Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices.

RadioShack plans to open a number of variously configured prototype stores over the next several weeks in the New York metro area, New Jersey and Texas that are customized to each location’s footprint, local buying patterns and neighborhood needs. The pilot stores will serve as learning labs as the company refines the format for what it describes as “a new generation of stores” that will be rolled out throughout the U.S. and internationally over the coming months.

The new store format, first announced in April, is part of a sweeping turnaround plan by CEO Joseph Magnacca and his new management team to restore sales and profitability. Other elements of the strategy include a fresh marketing slant to attract a younger generation of consumers, a revamped assortment that includes a greater focus on CE, health and fitness and private label, and new distribution strategies that include a push into college bookstores.

Meanwhile, Staples, the No. 1 office supply chain, is creating a new “omnichannel” prototype store of its own that features Internet kiosks and consultation areas for small business customers.

The company, which has long claimed the title of world’s second largest etailer, said the new retail format will allow it to leverage both its digital capabilities and extensive real estate.

The first pilot stores, located in Norwood, Mass., and Dover, Del., will also serve as test labs for new products and services, the retailer said.

The stores feature several touchscreen stations where customers can access and its 100,000- item assortment. There’s also a business lounge with meeting space and work stations; an ink and toner finder; and remodeled Copy & Print and Easy- Tech IT support areas.

Explained Demos Parneros, president of Staples’ North America stores and online, “Our stores make efficient use of space while offering more products and services than ever through our mobile and online features. We also know that shopping is an occasion and we’ve created a fun experience for our customers.”

Staples faces a shifting office-supply landscape as channel competitors Office Depot and OfficeMax prepare for a year-end merger, and is also contending with sluggish sales as it continues to close stores. About 48 locations have been shuttered since May 2012, which contributed to a 3.5 percent decline in first-quarter revenue.