Interview Transcript

What do you believe are the strategic options today for retailers to adapt to the long-term structural changes toward digital? Is it this doubling down on loyalty really focused on omnichannel? How would you be looking at Game Stop today?

I think it’s building that ecosystem where once the customer is in, you try to add on a number of things. Game Stop, for example, you get into the ecosystem, you’ve got the loyalty program, you’ve got the Game Informer magazine. You have trades, you have all kinds of things going on, and digital downloads, which also happen online. You have omnichannel. It’s a huge advantage for maintaining market share or building market share. The one thing to remember is, when it comes to omnichannel, Amazon for example is missing the most important channel in omnichannel. Physical brick and mortar are still 90 percent of retail. Amazon doesn’t have that, except Whole Foods. To be omnichannel is really important. I think Game Stop made a lot of headway with that.

Do you think that shift between 50/50 mix between digital and physical, do you think we’re going to see lots of store closures from the retailers to balance that brick and mortar exposure out?

Well, barring the current situation aside, which you can’t really take that into account. Yes, I think there will be some closures. There are companies in terms of omnichannel that are in very different positions. Best Buy, for example, has done an amazing job at building their omnichannel business and their stock price shows it. I think Game Digital in the UK has done a really good job with omnichannel. They have a great loyalty program. I think the companies that are staying focused on omnichannel and not trying to kiss a falling knife by just keeping closing stores are the ones that are going to succeed.

What do you think Best Buy or Game Digital have done so well?

I think both have really good loyalty programs. It’s really interesting, Martin in the UK has created instore e-sports arenas and Best Buy has done a great job at diversifying their store and making it relevant. There was a time five years ago when everybody said they’re just a showpiece for Amazon. Now people are talking the other way. That people go on Amazon, they go, “Let me go to Best Buy and see if I can beat this.” I think they’ve done a really good job with customer relations and better customer service. I think he has really done a good job.

Do you think the digital players, Amazon and the ecommerce retailers, do you think they can replace that physical customer relationship and touch and feel?

Not in any way. That’s just my opinion. I don’t think there’s anything except getting stores or making a partnership with some chain, I don’t think there’s anyway Amazon can replace the feel of just ordering a box and having it show up on your doorstep. That’s going to work for insignificant things, but if you’re going to buy a piece of electronics, I don’t think most people would want to just go online and spend a thousand dollars. I think that will even itself out over time.

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