Future Shop's New Future

Future Shop has a reputation among my circle of friends as an indifferent big box retailer with sometimes poor after sales support. When I heard about a new "concept" store attempting to be customer centric my curiosity was piqued. Hoping that old proverb about curiosity and dead cats was on summer vacation I accepted an invitation to last night's unveiling party of the newly redesigned Future Shop at Park Royal.

The new store concept is a "Hub" where customers can see products in a bit of context and talk to product experts who aren't on commission. The hub, appropriately located in the center of the store, has four sections corresponding to different facets of lifestyle: Living, Playing, Working, and "On the Go". Each section has product displayed "Ikea" style (i.e., setup the way you might find in a home much tidier than mine). The store also contains an Apple store, staffed by Apple staff.

The Hub
The new Future Shop "Hub" concept at Park Royal
Photo by penmachine

This was the first opening of any type I got to attend as "media", and I got the full attention of one of the Future Shop employees who'll be staffing the hub.

On seeing this design at other stores:

Exchange/Return with chairsThis is a concept store based on customer feedback surveys. Future shop will be watching what works and what doesn't, and move the working ideas out to their other stores. The Hub and Apple store weren't the only things implemented. Not mentioned in the promotional material I saw but pointed out by the employee, in response to customer feedback their returns/exchange area now has seating (Photo right).

Will this store, being a sort of West Van flagship and all, carry higher end products not carried at other stores?

My interview subject didn't have any specific information on this, so probably not.

Does this store reflect an attempt to differentiate the Future Shop and Best Buy brands?

Again, my interview subject didn't have any specific information on this. His Future Shop loyalty/pride as a floor sales guy certainly came out, though! He felt since Future Shop sales people were on commission they gave better service than Best Buy staff, who weren't.

My take away from all this?

The most impressive thing I heard all night was the seating in the returns/exchange area. This isn't sexy, so the fact they spent money on it shows some earnest attempt to the improve store experience (And hopefully they're also working on keeping the wait times and number of returns low!). It was also nice to see floor staff engaged in the change This is based on a sample of one, but it would have been ill omen indeed if they'd only had bored folks available.

So, is this a flash-in-the-pan facelift or genuine attempt to become a nicer place to shop? I can't tell from just an opening. I'm hoping for the later (it would sure be nice to have a tech geek go-to store) but I'm not holding my breath! However, living on Vancouver's North Shore I'll have a chance to find out over the next few months. And hopefully not by using one of those new chairs in returns/exchange.


Marina wrote 13 years 41 weeks ago

Misconception about Best

Misconception about Best Buy's non commissioned sales staff and Future Shop's commissioned ones - BB's staff may not get a cut on the commission but they still have to meet stringent sales numbers and sell a bottom line amount of warranty to stay on staff. Hubby, god bless his un-salesman soul, couldn't deal with the constant pressure of having to sell the stuff - he lasted all of 3 months before quiting (mind you, they'd probably have fired him if he continued with his poor track record).

The store itself looks kind of neat but I'm not sure. The one thing I hate most is the lack of options for us up here. There's BB and FS and that's pretty much it. I've started to avoid Future Shops all together because they always feel cluttered. Beyond that, the sales staff never seem to know where 1) anything is or 2) be able to answer any substantial questions about a product - grill a sales guys about an MP3 player = disaster. Even the camera guys seem clueless though I've come across a few good computer sales guys.

More than anything, I try to avoid both stores completely.

dale wrote 13 years 41 weeks ago

Maybe North Shore is better? ....

I don't go to Future Shop that often but don't avoid them, either. The last few times I've needed help I've had good service at both the North Shore locations. One fellow at the Park Royal store (pre reno) practically tore their shelves apart to find the 1 copy of a DVD their computer said they had in stock.

I totally don't know whether you'd find the Park Royal location cluttered. It doesn't feel cluttered to me, but neither do most of their other locations.

But I'm with you on the knowledge thing. It's pretty hit and miss. When I was shopping for my video camera the staff at the downtown and Park Royal locations were not familiar with the product lines and gave me bad information. Actually, the downtown location gave me further bad information on a second, later video cam question. However, a staffer at the North Van Marine Drive store knew his video game information.

Although I've had at least one face-to-face comment that I'm reading too much into the chairs, in my experience attention to the small details is usually a good thing. Like I said in my post, I'm not holding my breath, but I'll be watching with curiosity over the next little while.

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