The way that people shop is changing and some larger retailers like Target don’t like it. A new trend that they’re seeing is “showrooming”, which is when a shopper goes into a brick and mortar store like Target to check out certain products (think TVs, toys, appliances, furniture, etc.), finds what they like and then goes online to do price comparisons and make the actual purchase (usually from somewhere like Amazon.com, eBay or other e-commerce stores).
The Wall Street Journal’s Ann Zimmerman wrote up a great piece on showrooming and how Target is trying to deal with it. Target was the focus due to an urgent letter they sent out to their vendors as a plea to help them fight the battle against savvy shoppers taking advantage of the time and money they spend on creating a great retail environment, only to be cut out of the equation when they end up buying online instead of in one of their stores.
Last week, in an urgent letter to vendors, the Minneapolis-based chain suggested that suppliers create special products that would set it apart from competitors and shield it from the price comparisons that have become so easy for shoppers to perform on their computers and smartphones. Where special products aren’t possible, Target asked the suppliers to help it match rivals’ prices. It also said it might create a subscription service that would give shoppers a discount on regularly purchased merchandise.
I think this is an interesting new behavior that shoppers are doing and it’s cool to see how Target is dealing with it. Target has to compete with the online retailers and really the only way to do it is through stronger relationships with their vendors (which basically means making them drop their prices and making the supply chain more efficient like Wal-Mart). It’s a competitive world out there and I think we’re just starting to see the effects that the efficiency of the web is bringing into the retail market.
I’ll admit that I’ve showroom’d before and I know it’s not going away anytime soon and it’s going to be up to Target (and their vendors) to adapt to the speed at which the web is changing the ways that we all shop. No matter what happens I think the end result is always going to be better prices for all of us consumers, so I guess we don’t have a lot to worry about.
Good luck, Target.