Online shopping is still nowhere near as big a moneymaker as shopping in the retail stores around the country, but online is growing very quickly. Some stores are already feeling the pinch and seeing the writing on the wall. Target is a perfect example. The national retailer sent out a letter to its vendors begging for help to combat what it calls “showrooming.”
Showrooming is where shoppers come into Target stores to see the products in person and then go online to purchase the product, typically for less money. Target is asking its vendors for several things. It wants discounts to be able to match those online prices for one. It also wants special products that can only be purchased in its stores. This is very common for Target to do in the toy market; there were a number of toys my kids wanted during Christmas that were Target exclusives.
Target is also saying that it might create a subscription service to discount the products that many people buy regularly. I think many people are like me; I will order something online, but prefer to buy locally because I hate to wait. If I come into your store, and you are $10 to $20 more for something that I want, I will gladly wait and order online. You could also keep me in your store as a buyer if you opened more than two of your 25 lanes, so I can get out faster. Waiting in line to pay for longer than it takes to shop will lose customers.
“What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices without making investments, as we do, to proudly display your brands,” according to the letter, which was signed by Target Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel and Kathee Tesija, Target’s executive vice president of merchandising.