It’s a question being asked up and down the chain of command at the likes of HMV and GAME, their rivals and their partners. In post-Christmas trading updates, both of the former announced less-than-stellar results.
Sure, there were signs of genuine resilience, but also spots of genuine weakness. The alarm klaxons haven’t started sounding just yet, but certainly a moment of reflection has been called.
The resulting transition is already underway: HMV is restructuring its head office team, and GAME will unveil a brand new strategy – a wider vision that includes better online tactics – in just a matter of weeks.
As for what happens beyond that, you can’t predict exactly, but innovation is desperately needed on the shopfloor.
For one thing, there’s still plenty of potential in the way games are displayed or presented.
Things like exclusive live demos of new and upcoming games is no doubt something core firms are considering to reinstate a sense of ‘retail theatre’ and get people in off the streets.
And you can expect more aggressive launch plans for things like 3DS and this year’s other big hardware and software hits.
Overall, it’s safe to say that retailers are likely facing a world where they aren’t going to be just ‘retailers’ any more.