Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Radio Shack Listing

As Radio Shack proceeds through bankruptcy (yeah, it's been a written goal of theirs for two decades to fail)....they've come to announce that they intend to sell their customer database as part of the proceedings.

The list?  117-million customers.

Various parties are hostile about this customer database being sold and don't think it's ethical.  Some folks have pointed out that everyone had the chance to say 'no' and just not give the information.  Some will say that the list has value and might be worth in the range of five-million dollars (on the high side, if you ask me....I'd value it at $200,000 max).

I've sat and pondered over this.  It's an odd thing.  If you really had 117-million active wouldn't be going bankrupt.

So I pondered upon this.  I can remember in 1976 walking into the Radio Shack of the town where I grew up and buying an item, and they collected the customer data even then.

I'm only suggesting this because they certainly won't admit it.....but this list of 117-million names probably is every single customer they've had since the mid-1970s.  I would even go a step further.....that twenty-percent of the listing are simply dead people.  And I'll even suggest that twenty-five percent are people who've moved in the past twenty years.

I've used Radio Shack on fifteen-to-twenty occasions since 1977 when I joined the Air Force.  They've probably got my name down, with at least six different addresses.

Actual value, if proven true?  Maybe $10,000 because you just don't know how accurate it really is.

This brings me around to the long-term strategy plan of Radio Shack.  I'm one of those people who saw the writing on the wall in the 1990s.  Whatever strategy they was simple and limited to probably a three-by-five inch card.  Once we emerged into the technology era of the 1990s....they should have picked up the hint.

They could have put a new look onto the stores.  They could have been at the front of the cellphone sales era.  They could have aimed more gadgets at kids.  There should have been a Xmas gift catalog every single year with emphasis on guys.

Instead....they just stayed with the 1970s scheme...a shop for geeky guys.  It lasted fifty years and it was simple.  Lets face it....before Ebay or Amazon came along.....if you wanted some hard-to-get electronic items....Radio Shack was 'it'.  You usually couldn't find another special store like this within 300 miles of your home.  They just didn't figure out the strength of the on-line competition until it was too late to fix anything.

Amazon buying the 117-million customer list?  No.  I'd lay down a good bet that they don't have any interest.  In's hard to think of a name-brand company who'd like to lay out hundreds of thousands on this type of listing.

Bottom line?  Radio Shack spent thousands of hours collecting this stupid data, and never knew how to really utilize it. Now?  They think they have something of value?  It just doesn't make sense.

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