All of a sudden everyone wants their own store. Time was when manufacturers and retailers were happy with a bit of shelf space in the Carphone Warehouse or a Phones 4u. Then came dedicated racks, followed by the store within a store.
Now it seems everyone secretly craves running the whole shebang themselves.
The latest to show signs of interest – albeit with no commitments – is HTC, following the ever-ambitious Samsung. Why all this interest? Quite simply because the most successful execution of a destination store is by their arch-rival Apple.
Manufacturers have not been leery in taking inspiration from Apple in their quest to be a success. All too often they have surmised the best way to compete with the crew at Cupertino is to copy them. Opening a destination store is the latest – and perhaps the last – trick to be lifted from the Apple playbook.
Apple perhaps didn’t invent the concept or destination store but, as with so many things, it has taken an idea and shown what can be achieved when it is done right.
Others have opened shops that bear their name above the door. Operators have been at this game for years, but with a few exceptions their efforts have tended to be about as scintillating as a trip to the old Electricity Board. Trouble is you can’t experience a network. You can’t touch it, see it, smell it or hold it. So there is no option but to fill the store with other people’s products, like so many washing machines and ovens.
The same does not apply if you are a manufacturer - especially if you want to push product suites and peripherals. Your own shop is quite simply the place to do it. Apple has demonstrated this. Now others see the possibilities and want a piece of the action.
But along with interest we also see caution this week. A store is for life, not just for this year’s Christmas sales. So it is really no surprise that HTC is looking carefully before it makes the leap. Nor is it a shock that Samsung and Carphone are pausing for breath in the midst of their corporate restructuring before pressing on with plans for world domination.
But I can’t help feeling this is a bandwagon that has started rolling. And after a few weeks or months of watching it pull away, even the cautious will want to run after it and jump on board.