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Target Looks to Suppliers for Help in Combating “Showrooming”

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Target Logo“Showrooming,” the practice of browsing brick-and-mortar stores for products and then buying them at a steeper discount online, is becoming a more and more prominent problem for traditional retailers, with app’s like Amazon’s Price Check making it easier than ever before to use retail shops as nothing but glorified store windows. According to a new Story in the Wall Street Journal, one retailer in particular is looking for ways to make the process a little harder.

Target is asking suppliers for help in thwarting “showrooming”—that is, when shoppers come into a store to see a product in person, only to buy it from a rival online, frequently at a lower price.

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.

While this sort of tactic isn’t wholly without precedent –a number of manufacturers already offer different SKUs to different retailers like Costco for products that are identical to those sold elsewhere — the piece makes an excellent point that comparison shopping isn’t the only problem traditional retailers face:

Some analysts said Target’s new tactics are unlikely to reverse the showrooming trend, because they fail to address the root problems traditional retailers face. Online-only retailers have significantly lower labor costs and, at least, for the time being don’t collect sales tax in most states.

Via: [The Wall Street Journal]

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