Is Bose doing the smart thing in closing its stores?
Citing “the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets,” Bose announced plans to close its remaining 119 retail stores across North America, Europe, Japan and Australia over the next several months.
In a statement, Bose said it opened its first store in the U.S in 1993 with a goal of providing “personal, private demonstrations” for its Wave music systems and Lifestyle home theater systems. With smartphone technology, Bose introduced noise-cancelling headphones, wireless sport earbuds, portable speakers and smart speakers and the privately-held company noted that these items are increasingly purchased online.
“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems,” said Colette Burke, VP of global sales at Bose. “At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed and where they needed it — and we’re doing the same thing now.”
Bose noted that its products are also carried at Best Buy, Target, Apple stores and other third-party retailers. Online, the product is sold on Amazon.com and on the company’s own website.
The company has 54 stores in the U.S. Affected workers will receive outplacement assistance and severance.
Ms. Burke added that she regrets the decision’s impact on store teams. “They take care of every person who walks through our doors — whether that’s helping with a problem, giving expert advice, or just letting someone take a break and listen to great music. Over the years, they’ve set the standard for customer service,” she said.
Approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia and South Korea will remain open.
While Sony and Samsung have flagship stores, Bose has always stood out for its extensive store base. Among closer competitors, Harman Kardon and JBL, both owned by Samsung, share a flagship in Madison Avenue in New York City. Last year, Sonos opened its first flagship in Manhattan’s SOHO neighborhood with private listening rooms to demonstrate how smart speakers work in homes.
- Bose is closing all of its retail stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia – The Verge
- Bose is shutting down all of its US stores as retail makes a ‘dramatic shift to online shopping’ – Business Insider
- Bose to shutter 119 stores across Australia, North America, Europe, and Japan – ZDNet
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Bose’s move to close its locations in more mature markets make sense? Have physical stores become less relevant for the audio category as it has become more closely tied to smartphones and portability?