Many reports indicate that retail stores are experiencing the “showrooming effect“. Essentially, consumers go in-store to look at and try out products, but then go online (sometimes in-store on the mobile) and purchase the same product for less at a competitor’s website, like Amazon.com.
To some extent, we’ve recently seen an example of this with 2(x)ist’s Evolve-brand recently launched men’s shapewear line. Granted, Evolve has been a Target-only brand for sometime, but I’m fairly certain many of the Evolve products have been available in-store only.
So the question I’m asking myself is whether or not we’ll start to see the tides changing even more and eventually see in-store or Target-only versions of Hanes and Fruit-of-the-Loom undershirts.
While this approach may not be too hard for the big manufactures to manage, if Target asks some of it’s smaller, niche suppliers to do that, it could become costly and potentially catastrophic for them to manage and fund multiple product-line programs.
I totally get why Target wouldn’t want shoppers to come in-store, then wind up buying the products cheaper online. But it seems to me the solution isn’t burdening it’s suppliers and forcing them to offer Target in-store only product lines.
As online shopping becomes richer, easier, and less expensive, I believe retailers have to get creative to make the in-store experience worth the visit. Maybe it’s some bridge of in-store and online shopping like the Walmart.com stores that popped up in some select malls during the recent holiday. Or maybe, they can offer some other incentive you can only get in-store.
Here’s an Idea…
Hey, I know!! What if Target put up some dedicated kiosks in their Undershirt (ok underwear too) department and offered direct online chat with a product expert – uh – like me! I’d know about every sku they offer in the category at that store, have samples of all them on hand, and be able to EFFECTIVELY help consumers make an informed in-store purchase.
I don’t know about you, but finding help in store is difficult enough, but most of their sales associates really have no idea about the products being sold. It’s kinda fun for me sometimes when I go to Target and ask their folks for help in selecting undershirts…I know they are trying…so I do my best to encourage them to help me and try to help them in the process too!
How about we take that concept a step further. What if Target also formed additional partnerships with online-only retailers in select categories, and if the in-store consumer purchased from that online retail partner via that kiosk while in-store, then the online retailer would pay Target a commission for the sale. Think of it! No stock to carry, no logistics, no real overhead, no shelf-space competition. Just a pure revenue play for Target to increase it’s overall margin.
Or is that too crazy of an idea? Let’s see what happens.