Transforming The Source: From Traditional Retail to Experiential Tech Hub

“Our category has traditionally skewed male,” Vice President of Marketing and Business Ron Craig says. “But today, consumer electronics have become pervasive and are basically part of everyones daily life. Broadening our appeal to include a younger and more female demographic is a key priority.”

Hands-On Experiences

The company in July 2015 took a big step towards increasing its customer appeal  with the opening of its first experiential format store in Toronto’s high end Yorkdale Mall. The store, which offers customers the opportunity to try out several different types of devices, is anticipated to become the template for store redesigns planned in 2016 and beyond.

“The Source has a lot of equity in personalized service which is a key driver in our category. Our small-box format stores really lend themselves to a one-to-one selling,” says Craig. “However, today customers use retail differently. They want to interact with the product and our existing stores weren’t really designed to provide that experience.”

In contrast to the retailer’s traditional stores, which are primarily display racks and pegged product, the Yorkdale store includes large tables that encourage product interaction. “The new store offers a more consumer-friendly visual merchandising approach, which showcase our top brands and tells a complete solution story,” Craig says.

The Yorkdale store displays include mobility, tablets, streaming audio, laptops and specialty cameras. The store also includes an extensive  headphones wall with large digital screens showcasing brands like Bose, Beats, Monster and Sony.

Since its opening, the store has seen a significant  increase in foot traffic and revenue. “The reaction from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive,” Craig says. “It’s also had a positive residual effect on our associates, who enjoy being affiliated with a contemporary brand that is moving forward.”

Profiling National Brands

The front of the Yorkdale store includes a large digital screen that features many of the leading brands available there. “Reinforcing The Source as a destination for top national brands is key to increasing consideration,” Craig says.

In recent years, the company has built relationships with top electronics brands including Bose, Sonos, Apple, GoPro and Nest. “The overall repositioning and evolution of The Source has made us more appealing to vendor partners,” he adds. “We’ve been able to secure exclusives from some of these partners, which goes a long way toward gaining credibility from consumers.”

These exclusives include Monster’s Superstar Bluetooth speaker and streaming audio line, which debuted at The Source.

New Frontiers

The planned store renovations are not the only changes slated for The Source in 2016, as it is also planning a revamp of its website. “Like our stores, our site is in need of a major facelift,” Craig says.

In addition to modernizing the look of its main site, The Source  plans to implement a mobile first, responsive site that will dynamically serve up personalized offers based on consumers’ on site browse and purchase behaviors.  The site will also place a greater emphasis on the benefits of shipping online orders to their 550 stores for customer pickup.

The retailer also continues to seek non-traditional opportunities to offer its products and increase its profile. One of these opportunities, a kiosk location in Toronto Pearson International Airport, has led to the airport requesting vending machines. The Source also is exploring the possibility of placing kiosks and vending machines in other Canadian airports.“The Source transformation strategy is clearly starting to gain traction,” Craig adds. “We continue to see strong share gains across key categories and our customer reaction tells us we’re definitely on the right track.”