Future Shop expands with smaller stores

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Future Shop, the Canadian electronics retailer that started with one location on West Broadway in Vancouver, is growing. Christopher Ian Bennett, director of corporate communications, told the Straight that the company is evolving the retail experience by making it easier for people to shop online. The goal, he said, is to “make it simple, make it smooth”.

Future Shop representatives claim the chain leads the pack in both online and bricks-and-mortar consumer electronics sales (the company has 149 stores across Canada). Future Shop’s website, they say, is consistently one of the most visited by Canadians. So Future Shop has begun offering a wider range of products through its online storefront.

At a press event on Tuesday (October 30), Robert Pearson, who runs the e-commerce business for Future Shop, added that the company’s research indicates that Canadians tend to shop in the U.S. or overseas when they can’t buy the products they want in Canada.

According to Pearson, there are 10,000 new products in the Future Shop ordering system now, and starting in the new year he expects to add up to 10,000 new products every month. Senior manager of retail operations Larry Richardson listed off some of the new product lines: tools, toys, camping gear, luggage, baby goods, and ice fishing huts.

Shipping for online orders over $20 is free, and Future Shop has extended its price protection program to include any Canadian competitor, including online, for 30 days after purchase. And, most importantly for customers, products purchased online can be returned to any Future Shop store. Even, Richardson offered, an assembled office chair that is only sold online.

No big box here: North Van Future Shop is only 5,000 square feet

Richardson was touring media through the prototype of a new retail outlet branded “futureshop.ca”. Located along Marine Drive in North Vancouver, it recently underwent a renovation that increased warehouse space, decreased showroom space, and integrated technology throughout the building.

There’s a counter just inside the front door dedicated for the pick up of merchandise ordered online. Larger items can be loaded directly into customer vehicles through a side door that opens into the warehouse.

The small-scale showroom—it’s 5,000 square feet, compared to an average big-box size of 27,000 square feet—is streamlined. Richardson said there are only about 1,000 products on display, compared to about 3,500 in the larger Future Shop locations.

Instead of displaying every television available, said Richardson, the North Vancouver store has about half the number that would be in a bigger store. Most brands and models are represented and he added that having multiple sizes of the same type of TV didn’t make sense.

There are only a handful of laptops, tablets, and cameras. New release movies and video games are available at the front of the store, with a couple of dozen bestselling titles also available. There’s also a hint of the new product lines available through the Future Shop website. On display near the front of the store are Traxxas remote-control vehicles, Paderno cookware, and luggage.

Customers who want something not offered in the store can easily order online using terminals and tablets throughout the store. And they are encouraged to check competitor pricing. Direct links to competitor websites are easily found on all sales terminals. That information is also available to store staff.

Future Shop expanding into smaller markets with smaller stores

The smaller stores will enable the chain to expand into areas of the country that can’t support the big box format, said Richardson. Later in November, the second futureshop.ca retail location will open in Brockville, Ontario, about an hour south of Ottawa along the St. Lawrence.

Not all futureshop.ca stores will have 5,000 square foot showrooms, said representatives. Depending on the needs and location, they could be smaller or larger.

Richardson also stressed that there were no announcements to be made about the closing of big-box Future Shop locations.

The grand opening of the new futureshop.ca store in North Vancouver (1076 Marine Drive) is Friday (November 2) through Sunday (November 4). Members of Canada’s national women’s soccer team will be appearing; Burnaby’s Christine Sinclair will be on site on Saturday (November 3).

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