Bose has announced its intention to close 119 of its brick and mortar stores across Australia, Europe, Japan and North America.
This will result in job losses for a significant number of retail employees as the company moves towards a more online-focused business model.
While Bose is known for its headphones, in recent years the company has added smart speakers to its product lineup. It also also experimented with other audio accessories, such as Sleep Buds and Frames - sunglasses that are also headphones.
The first Bose store opened in 1993 and enabled customers to try the products in private demonstrations. While e-commerce seems like a logical reason to pull out of physical stores in 2020, this eliminates customer ability to try Bose's high-end wares ahead of purchase. Considering that its headphones alone tend to range from $230 - $600, this could be a sticking point for consumers.
However, Bose does offer a 30-day 'excitement guarantee' which basically works as a 30 day trial. If you're unhappy with the product you can send it back for a full refund, including shipping costs. So that's something.
It's unclear how many employees will lose their jobs due to the closures, but we expect it to be in the hundreds."Bose will be offering outplacement assistance and severance to affected employees. Additional details, including the number of employees affected, will remain private," said a Bose spokesperson to Gizmodo over email.
I recently spent some time with Bose's Noise-Masking Sleepbuds. When I first wrote about them, I admitted to not being the the target market for these little guys. I'm fortunately blessed with the ability to sleep pretty much anywhere, anytime. It's okay to hate me. But these landed in my hands while I was experiencing the most hellish jet lag of my life. There had never been a better time for me to put something like these to the test.
Despite the multi-continent store closures, around 130 stores will remain open across the globe in Across the United Arab Emirates and Asia.
You can read the full statement from Bose below:
Given the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets, Bose plans to close its remaining 119 retail stores across North America, Europe, Japan and Australia over the next several months. In other parts of the world, Bose stores will remain open, including approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea.
In 1993, Bose opened its first store in the United States to provide personal, private demonstrations for Wave music systems and Lifestyle home theater systems. As smartphones changed the industry, the company’s focus turned to mobile, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi solutions. Today, Bose noise-cancelling headphones, truly wireless sport earbuds, portable speakers, and smart speakers are increasingly purchased through e-commerce, including Bose.com; and Bose is a larger multi-national company, with a localized mix of channels tailored for a country or region.
“Originally, our retail stores gave people a way to experience, test, and talk to us about multi-component, CD and DVD-based home entertainment systems,” said Colette Burke, vice president of Global Sales, Bose Corporation. “At the time, it was a radical idea, but we focused on what our customers needed, and where they needed it – and we’re doing the same thing now. It’s still difficult, because the decision impacts some of our amazing store teams who make us proud every day. They take care of every person who walks through our doors – whether that’s helping with a problem, giving expert advice, or just letting someone take a break and listen to great music. Over the years, they’ve set the standard for customer service. And everyone at Bose is grateful.”
Bose will be offering outplacement assistance and severance to affected employees. Additional details, including the number of employees affected, will remain private.