As regular readers of The UpStream know, many of us here are RadioShack alumni. Over the years, we have seen a lot of changes, particularly in the wireless business. In my tenure with the company, I had the opportunity to interact with all of the major networks but always in smaller, odd pairings. The largest, and possibly strangest pairing, is the current 3 that The Shack offers - Sprint, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile.
This week, however, RadioShack announced that they plan to oust T-Mobile and replace them with Verizon Wireless. This is a surprising move considering remarks that RadioShack leaders have made about the smallest national carrier's interactions with the retailer. At one point during the 4th quarter earnings call for 2010, there was even a comment about T-Mobile breaching their contract with the corporation. With all of that said, I don't think anyone is surprised that the new CEO, James F. Gooch, is ready to be done with them.
How does this impact the wireless-buying populace? Hit the break to find out.
This change means that RadioShack now carries the top 3 wireless carriers in all of their corporate stores - Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and Sprint. With the inevitable purchase of T-Mobile by AT&T Mobility, this means that all of the national carriers will be available in one location. The Shack wants you to remember, too, that they have nearly 5,000 corporate stores, over 1,000 dealer stores and another 1,500 wireless centers, mostly in Target stores, no matter where you are you are close to a location you can purchase a phone from any of the major carriers.
In addition to the post-paids, they also carry almost all of the major no contract services, as well, meaning RadioShack may very well have positioned themselves as the only place you need to go for wireless.
The biggest problem they have against them right now is a perception of small, old, dingy stores with associates who are not as knowledgeable as they once were. This sales associate perception is a stigma that currently harms several of the major electronics retailers, including Best Buy. Whether or not this will help them get out of the financial hole that previous management has created or now, it is certainly a step in the right direction.