This stuff is never easy. Buying habits change with technology, and just about every brick and mortar operator has felt some squeeze from online purchasing. Seems even flagship brands like Bose aren’t immune from the powers of next-day shipping.
The audio company confirmed with The Verge this week its plan to close shop on some 119 stores across Australia, Europe, Japan and North America in the coming months. Bose has a legacy of retail storefronts dating back to 1993, when it opened shops in the U.S.
The plan certainly made sense then, moving out of the Sharper Images of the world and planting a flag with its own brand name storefront. There’s also a lot to be said for the ability to offer in-person demos to consumers before they go dropping hundreds of dollars on a product. But apparently the model doesn’t make as much sense these days.
“It’s still difficult, because the decision impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day,” the company said in a letter sent to employees. “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. And everyone at Bose is grateful.”
Bose says it will offer severance and outplacement assistant to impacted employees. It also will keep some 130 stores open in other parts of the world, including China, UAE, India, South Korea and other parts of Asia.
These sorts of things tend to ebb and flow, of course. When I met with headphone startup Nura at CES, the company told me that it has opened a handful of small locations in order to showcase its own audio technology in person. Though obviously its own modest operations aren’t close to Bose’s size or scale.