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Retail Chains To Strike Back Against Online Vendors

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the eye-before-you-buy dept.

Businesses 532

Hugh Pickens writes "Marissa Taylor says the retail chains' worst nightmare are consumers who come in to take a look at merchandise in-store, but use smartphone apps to shop for cheaper prices online. But now stores like low-end retail chain Target plan to fight 'showrooming' by scaling up their business models and asking vendors to create Target-exclusive products that can't be found online. 'The bottom line is that the more commoditized the product is, the more people are going to look for the cheapest price,' says Morningstar analyst Michael Keara. 'If there's a significant price difference [among retailers] and you're using it on a regular basis, you're going to go to Amazon.' Target recently sent an 'urgent' letter to vendors, asking them to 'create special products that would set it apart from competitors.' Target's letter insisted that it would not '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.' Target also announced that it had teamed up with a handful of unique specialty shops that will offer limited edition merchandise on a rotating basis within Target stores in hopes of creating an evolving shopping experience for customers. Target is 'exercising leverage over its vendors to achieve the same pricing that smaller, online-only retailers receive,' says Weinswig. 'This strategy would help Target compete with retailers like Amazon on like-for-like products.'"

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So just like the old Sears crap? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871177)

This will work for a few weeks before people simply look up the equivalent part numbers. Sears tried this already. It sucked, made headaches, and didn't help the problem at all.

Yes, but... (4, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871571)

Look at Trader Joe's. Sure, you can buy all that stuff elsewhere but it's cheaper because it's a "house brand." If Target can do this, more power to 'em.

This strategy doesn't have to suck as much as the Sears-branded Atari 2600 [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Yes, but... (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871661)

Hey! The Sears Tele-Games wasn't that bad, I had one of the 4 digital switch ones. It played all the 2600 games just fine back in the day. Really wasn't a fan of the controllers but normal 2600 controllers would plug in fine (and later the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive controllers).

Re:So just like the old Sears crap? (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871573)

This will work for a few weeks before people simply look up the equivalent part numbers. Sears tried this already. It sucked, made headaches, and didn't help the problem at all.

This was once the way Montgomery Ward, Sears, J.C. Penney and other stores operated. There were certain products you could only get with their brand name on it. Sure, other stores would have something similar but you went on the quality reputation of the store you saw it in. Also gives them a bit of a leg up against copy-cats.

Down-side and reality-check: Most stuff is being made in China, Thailand, Vietname, Bangladesh, etc. so they're passing the 'savings' on to the buyer and the consumer as well, by selling to all comers, rather than just one chain of stores. Further, China has a rotten track-record of selling stuff out the back door - contract with a Chinese mill for 100,000 fuzzy pink sweaters and you can bet, once they've finished your order, since they're tooled up for this model, they'll be dumping another 50,000 out the back door to whoever wants to buy them, no questions asked.

Best of luck to them with that.

Re:So just like the old Sears crap? (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871677)

And the "store brands" will be shite on a crusty roll. look at the Best Buy "exclusive" computers, they are the lowest POS garbage that any OEM can scrape together, every part of them is crap from the caps to the plastic. it won't take long for people to realize the ones that can "only be found here" will be the junk piles, like those BB and Staples "exclusive" laptops where they stick some desktop CPU like a bottom of the line Celeron or Pentium in a cheap laptop and pass it off as a good deal.

The best way is to not try to make funky store brands but to simply offer incentives to buy. When my oldest needed a laptop right that minute for class after the old Dell gave up the ghost he went to two local stores, the Staples and Best buy. The Staples were doing nothing but bait and switch, every model he would look at on the floor was magically out of stock but they could get him 'something similar' for a $300 markup, instead we went to the local BB and when they saw he was comparing prices the floor guy said "I'll throw in a bookbag and cleaning kit" and sealed the deal. Later when we checked online they sold it to him within $40 of the average price and the bookbag made up for the difference so we were happy.

So you can still make the sale in retail, simply offer the customer a good deal. I went amazon for my netbook, not because i had something against the local shops, but all they had were Atom crap and i wanted an AMD, now i go into the local shops like Walmart and best buy and i see they have quite a lot of nice AMD Fusion based so if i needed another one I could be tempted if they throw in a little swag or offer a decent price. The local staples still sucks though, last time I went in there with a customer who wanted me there to help decide on some monitors for his business what did i see? same old bait and switch BS. I got so disgusted that even though the BB is 35 miles away i said 'Hop in my truck and we'll get you some monitors". treat the customer right they'll buy, try to screw 'em and watch those sales walk out the door, its really that simple. that customer spent nearly a grand on monitors that day and those sales COULD have been Staples if they wouldn't have tried to screw him. I can't bitch too much about their douchebag tactics though, the customer was so impressed i was trying to keep him from getting ripped off he bought an extra 22 inch and handed it to me for my trouble as well as threw $2000 worth of business my way building the machines for his office. So I guess i should thank Staples for being douches, it certainly made me look better by comparison.

I do the opposite (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871183)

I do the opposite of what this article suggests. I'll look up reviews or whatever online, and instead of waiting around for shipping I go out and buy it. I've even done this with Target.

If they stop carrying these products, then I will never be buying from them, since they'll have nothing I want to buy.

Re:I do the opposite (5, Insightful)

zAPPzAPP (1207370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871223)

Every time I try to do this, the first 3-4 shops I visit don't have the item in stock.
And of course none of them offers a list of their items online.

Re:I do the opposite (3, Insightful)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871361)

Just lookup the item # online and call ahead to the store. If they have it ask them to hold onto it upfront and head over. If they don't, find another location/store.

Re:I do the opposite (5, Insightful)

rec9140 (732463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871519)

"Just lookup the item # online and call ahead to the store. If they have it as"

Whoosssssshhhhhhh!

The whole point is NOT to use the phone! Point click go pick up. Seriously the level of stock intergration systems in the 21st century utterly sucks!

X store should be able to ACCURATELY tell me that widget 12345 is in stock in store 788 with 32 and its accurrate when I pulled it.

I've seen this all to often from all sorts of stores offering pick it up now services...

Then ... how can it be in stock in the store and be out of stock online? ? ? HMMM??? IT CAN NOT!

The store should shove it in a box and UPS/USPS it to me! If the warehouse is out of stock and stock is in the store(s) then ship it to me! GO FETCH TIME! Hence why accurate stock systems need to be in place, and I seriously find it out of place that in 2012 this is not the norm.

Re:I do the opposite (5, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871685)

Oh, believe me, the internal systems know exactly what they have in inventory, how much is there, and how much they're expecting in future orders.

Target especially, I know this from first hand experience, their internal systems track everything, they have an elaborate warehousing system that is updated constantly by warehouse personnel wielding LRT's (barcode scanners that tie into the inventory system) as they deal with overstock, as well as do replenishment pulls to keep the shelves stocked. You can also see what every store carries via their intranet for stock balancing purposes...they know what's coming on every trailer days before it gets there. It's all barcoded.

It would probably be trivial for them to hook that system into their forward-facing website, but they don't want that. They'd rather you get in the car and drive down to the store and impulse buy a ton of crap you weren't actively looking for. That's pretty much every big-box retailer.

Allowing people to get what they want and get out is the last thing they want, so outright telling you if they have something for sure via the web will likely not happen. Even if you can confirm it is there, good luck getting a hold on it so you can run over and pick it up.

Re:I do the opposite (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871533)

This. We (okay, really, it was my wife) did about 70% of our Christmas shopping online, mostly Amazon and Chapters. For some items that wouldn't show up in time, we called to local brick&mortar stores, found one with the item in stock, asked to hold it, and I drove out to get it that evening. Walked in, waited for my turn in line, they fetched it, I paid for it, walked out. Sure, it took an hour all-told, but the overall amount of time we spent on shopping was so reduced it wasn't even funny.

Note that Costco seems to have Costco-specific models already. Doesn't stop me from shopping around. As long as you're aware of the actual requirements you have, and anything that isn't one of your requirements are valued properly, i.e., as $0, you should do fine. Great, your version of a vacuum cleaner has a pet attachment. I don't have pets. That has zero value to me. I don't care that your bundle has more stuff in it, it has nothing of value over a similar bundle at Amazon, and costs more, I'm buying from Amazon. Or vice versa, for that matter.

Re:I do the opposite (4, Insightful)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871545)

As someone who worked in retail for 8 years, I agree with this. Retail employees would MUCH rather you called ahead. They will even call other stores to find it for you, if you ask. Otherwise, you'll show up and get angry with them, and their job sucks enough already. So yes, please do call ahead if you know exactly what you want. Press the 7 or 11 digits on your phone, it's not hard!

Re:I do the opposite (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871681)

If 10x the current number of people started calling ahead, do you not think these retail employees wouldn't be even more miserable? How much time do retail employees have for sitting on the phone and running around the store looking for stuff anyway?

Re:I do the opposite (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871569)

Just as a warning, it turns out that Home Depot will not hold your caulk up front for any length of time.

Re:I do the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871809)

Try buying them dinner first, or maybe a beer.

Re:I do the opposite (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871593)

Just lookup the item # online and call ahead to the store. If they have it ask them to hold onto it upfront and head over. If they don't, find another location/store.

This is noble, but I doubt most consumers would do that. By the time they call around to 2-3 or three stores, drive there, stand in line, etc. they could have ordered from Amazon. Granted, if it's December 24th or something they really want immediately, they'll put up with this, but normally? No.

What Target, etc. seem to have missed is that shopping at their stores sucks. It's a generally unpleasant experience from entrance through to exit.

Re:I do the opposite (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871751)

It depends on what you're getting. If you're buying milk, bread, and a bunch other low-value/high-volume groceries (i.e. it would cost a lot to ship $100-200 worth of groceries by Fedex), then Amazon really isn't a realistic choice, and Target makes it pretty easy by having everything in one place. For high-value items, it's totally different.

Also, clothes are generally better bought locally, since you can try them on before buying them. Sure, some online places let you return clothes easily, but that gets expensive with shipping charges, plus prices online seem to be very high for clothes, whereas it's easy to find stuff on clearance (for 50-90% off) at local stores.

Re:I do the opposite (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871665)

It probably takes less time for me to drive to my local Target and look for something myself than to get some overworked store worker on the phone to go look for it for me.

One of the reasons for shopping online is convenience: you don't have to mess around with driving around looking for stuff, you just find it, click "buy", enter your CC details, and you're done. One of the supposed reasons for shopping locally is convenience: you don't have to wait around for stuff to arrive by Fedex. Making me call around to a dozen stores looking for one that has it in stock, and then making me drive an hour to go get it (30 minutes there, 30 minutes back) because the only store that has it is on the other side of town, is NOT convenient. I might as well just order it online and wait a couple of days so I don't have to take time out of my busy schedule.

Re:I do the opposite (0)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871313)

Yep, me too.

Re:I do the opposite (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871611)

I do the opposite of what this article suggests. I'll look up reviews or whatever online, and instead of waiting around for shipping I go out and buy it. I've even done this with Target.

If they stop carrying these products, then I will never be buying from them, since they'll have nothing I want to buy.

Quite a few items I'll buy locally rather than on-line. The reason being - if it breaks or is received DOA or not as described I can take it right back. I've had to return items to online sellers and it's lots of fun waiting about 3 weeks for the item to get replaced or refunded.

Re:I do the opposite (2)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871613)

Target already does this and has some excellent store branded foods. It's not perfect as some are damn near inedible crap. I'd say that so far I've had about 50/50 good/horrible on buying their store brands. I won't however pay 'too much' where that would be more than 10-20 percent which is about the most I've found there store brands to be priced.

In other areas they could use some work, better quality and something better than I can get at other local stores or online. They're pretty bad when it comes to electronics.

Somehow this won't turn out well. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871189)

They'll just make a nearly-identical, but corner-cut model?

That's about what the folks in Bentonville push to their stores - where you don't know until you call for support.

Re:Somehow this won't turn out well. (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871239)

All it takes is another SKU. Stores that do price matching do it by SKU, right? So, by each store having their own SKU, no one has to match. Moreover, adding a store-specific SKU adds another layer to any ShopSavvy or Amazon PriceCheck style apps that look up prices across multiple stores by SKU. Those apps will have to find some kind of "master product" and identify all of the SKUs associated with it and ensure that the end-user understands the differences.

Re:Somehow this won't turn out well. (5, Informative)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871391)

A lot of places that do price matching already do this.

It'll be SKUs #####A, #####B, #####C.

Retailers #1, #2, #3, each get the respective SKU, despite being an identical product. And when you try to price match they won't as it's technically a different item. Of course they leave off how they are the only ones who sell that SKU and thus would price match themselves.

Too late! (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871191)

I don't visit Target for anything. Instead, I lurk forums and post appropriate questions as necessary.

No need to spend precious gas money and time to drive to brick-and-mortar stores.

Well, good for them (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871193)

At least they're not trying to legislate their way out of it.

Re:Well, good for them (3, Funny)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871353)

Sure as a dog returns to it's vomit, that will happen. About 2 seconds after they figure out this isn't working for them.

Re:Well, good for them (0, Flamebait)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871447)

That's true, although they probably already spent up all their lobbying money making sure gays aren't allowed to get married [prwatch.org] .

Plus you can't forget the anti-union videos they need to produce to intimidate new hires [huffingtonpost.com] , they're not cheap. Refuse to sign and keep Target union free!! [consumerist.com]

They're no better than Walmart. Everything they sell is foreign made crap, too. The clothes are more stylish than what Walmart carries, but they fall apart just as fast. Couple this with their piss-poor way of treating employees (speaking as someone that worked there and saw the discrimination first hand) and their support of those hypocritical "family values" groups, I won't put a fucking dime into that corporation's pocket.

I really havent figured out "showrooming" (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871205)

Ok so your going to drive to the store, find the product you want, scan it on amazon, save really nothing since you already wasted the time and gas, wait a week for it to ship and then if you dont like it pay to ship it back, wait another week etc

and with amazon charging sales tax now and in the near future is it really worth it?

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871271)

umm, with prime, which I got for free for being a student, free 2 day shipping. Not waiting a week for anything. Sometimes I get things the next day. 'Instant gratification tax' my ass. More like privilege of purchasing in our store tax. I don't do showrooming, but if I did target is 9 miles away. I'm pretty sure I would save the more than $2 I spend on gas back and forth on the first thing I bought online...

The answer is to fire a chunk of the worthless uninformed store lackey's who go around pressuring people to buy products (more of a Best Buy type store issue than Target, granted) and sell the frikkan' existing products for cheaper...

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871421)

Also people combine trips.
Go to Target, or Walmart for groceries/clothes which you cannot really do online then while you are there shop for a new vacuum or look at the TV's they have. If you like any of them check them out online and compare prices, if its cheaper online you can have your order placed via your phone before walking out the store with your other stuff.

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871351)

i smell a "back in my day" speech brewing

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (2)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871367)

Depends on the price diff.

A 10-15% diff in price would be worth the the time and gas.

YMMV.

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (1)

norpy (1277318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871737)

time and gas.

YMMV.

I see what you did there!

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871375)

If I'm buying something expensive where the difference in price is $50-$100 then yes, I will do this, if I want to look at the actual object before I buy it.

Re:I really havent figured out "showrooming" (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871799)

It depends on what you're buying. If it's a $1000 electronic item, you can easily save $100-200 by buying from Amazon. And for most of us, Amazon doesn't charge sales tax (hello, not everyone lives in CA). Why would you want to return an electronic product anyway? If you've done your research, you should get something you like, unless it breaks, but that's not that common with modern quality control (it doesn't break until the warranty period is over).

As for time and gas, you're probably already there because you're shopping for groceries, which almost no one buys online. Walking over to the electronics section isn't much of a trip from the milk aisle.

That sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871215)

The way I see it, "showrooming" is indeed bad for retail chains, but they way they are dealing with this is wrong.

Either

a) The exclusive products aren't worth it (or simply not needed)

b) The exclusive products _are_ worth it, and people will become angry

In general "exclusive items" or "limited edition merchandise" (with a few exceptions) is nothing the average buyer likes/wants.

Right.... (4, Insightful)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871219)

Don't bother adding *real* value, just make it harder for the consumer in the long run. This will end well.

Re:Right.... (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871479)

Don't bother adding *real* value

I'm curious what "real value" you suggest they add?

The local bookstore has a coffee shop, lets you preview the books in comfy chairs, has kiosks to let you see what's in stock and where in the store it is, a whole bunch of staff, a club/rewards card...

And its pretty busy too.

But half the people i know, walk in browse around, look it up on amazon on their smart phone, and if they can get it a dollar cheaper online will walk out without making a book purchase.

I think they've realistically done everything they can, short of simply matching amazon's prices. But that's not a value add, and a race to the bottom is a losing proposition for the retail world... amazon can lower prices more than a store in can. So they'll be out of business before they can win.

Re:Right.... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871793)

I don't know about anybody else, but if and when I use an online site to price check stuff like movies, I'm already in the store intending to buy two or three movies, so it doesn't cause me to not buy movies. It just helps me decide which two or three movies to buy that day, and which ones to defer or buy elsewhere.

For expensive stuff, though, you either price match or you've lost the sale, period, because most people don't buy products that cost a hundred bucks and up without having a general idea of how much they should cost online. If you think you can fool people with altered model numbers or special Target-specific versions, you're kidding yourself. Most customers don't even notice model year changes, much less minor variations in model. What the average consumer notices is that your 27" Samsung TV costs a hundred bucks more than Amazon's 27" Samsung TV. And as long as that is true, you've lost the sale.

Re:Right.... (1)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871807)

Well said. The thought of Barnes & Noble closing up all their stores scares the hell out of me. I love books. Real books, not eBooks. The Borders by my house closed, which was sad, but not terrible because there's a B&N across the street from my work. If that were to close, it would be a really, really sad day.

wait, Tar-jay is low-end? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871221)

I always thought they were too upscale for close-out shoppers like me.

Re:wait, Tar-jay is low-end? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871453)

Yea not sure where they are comparing Target to, to consider them low-end.
Here in my city Targets are only located in the nicer parts of town. The closest Target to where I live is a half hour drive, and the rents on the Apts there are at least twice what I pay.

The problem with this is (5, Insightful)

jodo (209027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871237)

The problem with Target-exclusive products is there will be no way to read reviews as there will be essentially none online. And I don't buy anything of substance without researching it.

Re:The problem with this is (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871481)

I got feeling the sort of stuff they will offer will either not be something a review is relevant to, or people will determine it's non-exclusive equivalent.

Item #1234t will be their exclusive brand, and item #1234 will be the non-exclusive one that's reviewed and orderable online.

babysrus does alread (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871243)

I went looking for a car seat for my daughter at babysrus and scanned the bar code to check how good/bad the price was. The only result was from babysrus online. I looked it up by name and found it on Amazon.com for a couple bucks cheaper. For a couple bucks more I bought it in store, but I felt a bit creepy about it. Clearly they had their own SKU of what was presumably the same product sold elsewhere, just to fool people like me who try to do some comparison shopping.

Re:babysrus does alread (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871431)

Brother printers are similar. Over here in Australia, you can get the HL-2240 but in Office works the exact same printer is the HL-2242.

I think that is to get around the 'we'll beat any other price by 10%' gimmicks though.

UPC Codes (1)

ticker47 (954580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871275)

I've seen a couple of products at different stores that have the original UPC covered up with a store specific UPC that displays no useful information when you scan it with a phone. The product might be available online elsewhere, but it makes it really annoying to look up with your phone.

i like Target but.... (1)

conark (871314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871277)

i don't like the idea of such a tremendous waste of physical space. i think one of the great things about shopping online is not having to deal with rude customers, kids, thrashed up products, parking, etc. also, i just think that these huge warehouse-like stores use up valuable space that could be used for other things.

ie, the mattress model (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871291)

anyone who has shopped for a mattress in the US knows that the brands have all colluded (the S-brands; funny how the 'sleep' companies insist their names also start with an S) to change their model names from store to store!

some stores are willing to help you decode the names into equivalent model names in their stores; but usually its a fixed game against you, the consumer.

so, target and others want to play the mattress game?

you know, when you declare war on your own customers, it may backfire. just saying...

get wise, retailers. don't pull this shit, please! decades of this mattress syndrome has made mattress shopping as frustrating as used car shopping, and about as unpleasant. you want that image stuck to YOUR products and 'show rooms'?

re-think this, guys. I'm pretty sure you don't really want what this will get you.

Re:ie, the mattress model (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871551)

you know, when you declare war on your own customers, it may backfire. just saying...

The consumer fired the first shot. At this point, most people don't care what/where they buy, so long as it's cheap (yaaay, Foxconn suicides!). There's really nothing for Target to lose. They'll gain some business, and lose some customers that they need to fire, anyway.

Is this realyl new in your part of the world? (4, Informative)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871293)

This has been done in the UK for some time, though for slightly different reasons. Having exactly the same product aside from it having a different model name/number used to be something a couple of camera manufacturers used to do for Dixons/Currys/PCWorld. It meant that price-match offers could be very generous (Found it cheaper elsewhere? We'll refund three times the difference!), because they would never need to pay out as no one else carried that exact model (well, they did, but with a different label) except those three stores which always had it at the same price as they are all owned by the same parent group.

Luddites (5, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871299)

Instead of fight against "lookers", embrace them. Who cares how the sale is made: if having a store improves online sales, that's a good thing. And, have the stores shift into a service center instead of just a physical catalog. A physical presence to demonstrate features first-hand and help trouble-shoot on-the-spot is sorely lacking online.

Change with the times, guys. Sure, you'll have to shuffle around your business model a bit, but the sooner you embrace the new model instead of fight it, the better.

Re:Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871385)

It isn't HOW the sale is made, its WHERE. Target has an online store. Even at the same price point, would you buy a product from target when you have an amazon prime account?

Re:Luddites (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871811)

Stores may switch to focus on vendors instead of product-lines, similar to Apple Stores. It may indeed spell the death or shrinkage of multi-vendor stores such as Best Buy. But physical stores won't disappear in general; rather switch to focus on what they do best: provide timely and hands-on service.

Re:Luddites (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871397)

So are you willing to pay an admission fee to Best Buy, or should these "services" be offered for free too?

Re:Luddites (3, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871465)

I would think that their worst nightmare is nobody coming to their store at all. Consumers are an impulsive bunch and I think the group of people that are willing to wait a week(s) and deal with package delivery to save sales tax is actually pretty small- and then what about impulse buys of other items they see in the store?

I call bull on this one.

Re:Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871559)

Around here the big stores will generally match the online prices of their own online store and other similar store that can actually deliver now at the same terms ,if you ask.

But I can see the small shops having a problem, a guy that has a small camera/photo store and 9 out of 10 "customers" that come in to the store just
wastes his time getting a demo of a camera to go buy in online somewhere else doesn't put bread on his table

In the US it doesn't help when the likes of amazon don't think they need to pay sales tax and can cut prices

maybe they should all just find something else to do, they deliver a service people obviously want; seeing and touching the stuff before they buy it, but it seems
not many are willing to pay for it

Re:Luddites (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871567)

the sooner you embrace the new model instead of fight it, the better.

This "new model" will fall apart as soon as the US implements sane sales tax policies.

try service for a change (5, Insightful)

reemul (1554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871597)

I'm with you - the one idea that the big box stores absolutely refuse to contemplate is competing based on _service_ instead of _price_. Most of them already used low prices to kill off the local small stores that provided real service to the shopper and community, now that they're getting creamed by Amazon they suddenly are all about supporting the local store.

You want to be the "local" store, Mr. Big Box Chain? Try some actual service. Stores that make sense, staff that understands the product and wishes to help rather than just upsell warranty packages, "sale" prices that are actually below the normal price that I need less than 2 seconds to find with my phone. Some products I really want to be able to touch and examine with my Mark 1 eyeball, which I just can't do online. Or ask questions in real time, with the product in front of me. Make that happen, make the experience pleasant, and I'll buy from the physical store over the online store if the prices are even close.

Too often I go into a place like Best Buy absolutely intending to buy a specific thing and fail. The stores are laid out to some layout designed to make you walk past as many impulse purchase racks as possible, rather than getting you right to the thing you actually want to buy. The staff isn't judged on whether they are helpful or even friendly - their metrics are all about sales, without teaching them any skills at interaction that might make sales happen. The item might not be in the place it should be, but good luck finding a minion to check the system for where it is, or whether it is out of stock. Forget service, try to go to Best Buy and not get angry.

As long as the brick and mortar guys lose on both sales and service to the online retailers, they're inevitably going to die, unmourned. I acknowledge that they probably can't win on price. How about, just for giggles, trying service, just once?

Re:try service for a change (5, Insightful)

ediron2 (246908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871805)

Actually, customers largely refuse to buy based on service. Among the service-is-king tier, there's room in the market for Neiman Marcus and... uh... well, that's it. Everyone else that tries, regrets the move. It's like newspapers blocking access to content behind a paywall. Everyone has to try eventually, and each time it fails: consumers race toward the bottom on cost far faster and more forcefully than they pay attention to quality and service. I don't like this, but it's a dominant rule of market economics. Incidentally, the same market economics are behind America's jobs *sprinting* to China. The example I've been watching most recently is the Raspberry Pi team's decision that they can't afford to manufacture in the UK as they'd hoped. Time and costs were too much to overcome.

Reviews (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871307)

If I can't find any reviews for products on independent sites, I won't buy them. So if Target only carries custom products, I'm a lot less likely to find a review for that product. That means I won't be shopping at Target.

At this point, the only reason for B&M stores to exist is for time critical situations when you can't wait a day or two to get your item off the internet. There's no way they're going to be able to compete with the internet on price. Compete on convenience and charge for it. Yes, it will be a smaller market, but that's progress.

Ergonomics (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871515)

the only reason for B&M stores to exist is for time critical situations when you can't wait a day or two

That or it's an item in a category for which ergonomics is critically important. This might include a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, where the way it fits your particular fingers and eyes can make or break a purchase.

No diff (2)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871317)

"Marissa Taylor says the retail chains' worst nightmare are consumers who come in to take a look at merchandise in-store, but use smartphone apps to shop for cheaper prices online.

This is no different from how I shop for groceries: look at the ads in the Sunday paper, find the coupons, shop for X and one store, Y at another, Z at the third.

Welcome to the 21st century. Get used to it, Target.

Re:No diff (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871505)

The dissonance between your sig and the thought expressed in your post is interesting

Re:No diff (4, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871583)

You don't get it. They don't want your business. That's why they're doing this. They're "firing" their bad customers. Businesses do it all of the time.

Costco is ahead of the curve on this (4, Insightful)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871319)

Costco already beats online retailers with three strategies:

1) It sells extras with the package that are not included with the regular offering. My roomba came with extra room markers and extra filters.
2) When the first two roombas I purchased crapped out, Costco exchanged them no questions asked. I had to try three units before I got one that worked reliably. Had I bought from Amazon, I would have had to pay to return the units and that's assuming they would have accepted them back.
3) Costco prices goods very aggressively.so they're usually around the same price as what's offered online.

Re:Costco is ahead of the curve on this (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871517)

Plus you can get free samples of food while you're there.

Re:Costco is ahead of the curve on this (1)

OliWarner (1529079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871525)

1 and 3 can be done by online retailers. They tend to have a margin advantage if they're big enough, some just choose not to because they feel they're only competing against other online retailers.

2 is an interesting one. I live at least 20 minutes away from a serious retailer and that's probably fairly average for most people. My time getting to and from the shop and then dealing with somebody is not free. It might be convenient, eg if I needed the item for work, then, sure, there's no debate, but for something like your vacuum cleaner where I'll happily wait a week, it's opportunistically better value to just walk it down the road five minutes to the post office and send it back, or book collection from a courier for £5-10.

Given that all these things have to be done in business hours, paying for a courier is often cheaper and more convenient for *most* medium-sized electronics than wasting your own time getting something fixed face-to-face.

Re:Costco is ahead of the curve on this (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871585)

Had I bought from Amazon, I would have had to pay to return the units and that's assuming they would have accepted them back.

I haven't returned anything to Amazon in a while now, but I think I recall that so long as they approve the return you get a free shipping label (for most things). They're also very well known for being return-friendly (although that may not be the same for all of their marketplace sellers).

Re:Costco is ahead of the curve on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871747)

I think Costco is already "playing the mattress game" themselves. Similar to what was said about the roomba, I bought a TV at costco that came with an extra item (Wireless adapter), which I thought was great, but that extra item actually changed the model number from what all other vendors had (now it's a Costco exclusive bundle, hooray!), so it's impossible to price match anymore since the product numbers are unique from all other retailers.

I buy less and less because of this kind of BS (3, Interesting)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871335)

Way too much effort involved in sorting through all the buying options. E.g. I would use a new digital camera, but I can't be bothered sorting through a zillion camera models and retailers. I still have a decrepit dumb phone for the same reason.

I don't get any satisfaction from navigating the maze of hassle thrown up by retailers these days.

How about having the item in stock? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871355)

So, let's see...I drive 25 miles (each way) to Best Buy to try out a gizmo. The price at Best Buy is $250, the price at Amazon is $235.

It's not worth $15 to me to wait, especially as I've already committed to drive 50 miles. So I tell the sales droid to grab one for me.

Turns out that they don't actually have it in stock, but offer to order it for in-store pickup next weekend. For $250.

At that point I click the order button at Amazon on my cell phone, and it's at my house in mid-week. For $235.

You lost a sale, Best Buy. This has happened multiple times. Ever since Circuit City went under, Best Buy has down way downhill.

Amazon didn't kill you. You killed yourself.

That's not their worst nightmare (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871357)

A retailer's worst nightmare isn't people that come into their stores and comparison shop online while they are surrounded by in-store advertising and are subject to impulse purchases. Their worst nightmare is people like me that usually choose to research and shop online without ever setting foot in the store.

If Target starts selling a bunch of house-brand crap that I can't research online, I'll be even less likely to buy something there. Unless it's cheap stuff like cleaning supplies, but I usually just buy the store brand of stuff like that anyway.

Input and output of mobile devices (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871547)

Their worst nightmare is people like me that usually choose to research and shop online without ever setting foot in the store.

Say you buy a laptop, but you can't stand its screen. Or you buy a smartphone, but you can't stand the typo rate when you try to enter text with your fat fingers on its on-screen keyboard. If you had had a chance to try it in the store, you might have been able to avoid buying it in the first place.

Re:Input and output of mobile devices (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871653)

Their worst nightmare is people like me that usually choose to research and shop online without ever setting foot in the store.

Say you buy a laptop, but you can't stand its screen. Or you buy a smartphone, but you can't stand the typo rate when you try to enter text with your fat fingers on its on-screen keyboard. If you had had a chance to try it in the store, you might have been able to avoid buying it in the first place.

That's why I do online research first - I have never bought a laptop or phone in a retail store, and I've never returned either a laptop or a phone because I didn't like it.

10 minutes in a store is hardly enough time to decide if I'm going to like it when I use it long-term at home anyway.

Offer price matching on the spot or throw in more (3, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871373)

This really isn't that difficult. If someone is coming into your store and won't buy from you because they can get it elsewhere for cheaper then simply match the price. Either that or throw in some extras like a free upgrade or accessory if they purchase the item in question.

I would always go into Best Buy and look through their enormous DVD library. The shop near me had literally hundreds of foreign films and shows in stock all in region 1 including a gigantic aisle of only anime films and shows. I'd show up, take note of what looked good, and then go online and find them for literally 50-80% off in brand new sealed boxes.

One time I wanted to buy a DVD and said that if they matched the online price of another retailer that I would buy it. They declined and I ended up buying it online later that day.

It's really not that hard for consumers who have a choice. You might occasionally need the convenience of immediate purchase at retail. But most of the time people can wait to order consume electronics or entertainment media. So they'll sacrifice immediacy in order to save money.

Re:Offer price matching on the spot or throw in mo (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871617)

This really isn't that difficult. If someone is coming into your store and won't buy from you because they can get it elsewhere for cheaper then simply match the price.

Well, duh. They've considered that. They decided not to try to compete on price, which is a smart decision. Competing on price never ends well (Business School 101). You end up sacrificing profits to keep non-loyal customers until the next competitor comes along and then you're all gone.

Re:Offer price matching on the spot or throw in mo (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871669)

This really isn't that difficult. If someone is coming into your store and won't buy from you because they can get it elsewhere for cheaper then simply match the price.

Except that a race to the bottom on pricing is a game the physical retailers will lose every time.

guilty (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871393)

I just did this last weekend looking for a new keyboard and webcam. I went into a local chain store, found the products I was looking for after picking them up and reading the boxes, scanned their barcodes with my android app, and found them online (amazon) for almost half the price with free shipping.

As a consumer I am simply making the best purchasing decision possible. This provides me the advantage of actually holding the product first before I make my buying decision, BUT that buying decision will be based on the overall cost and not a loyalty to chain stores. Chain stores who have stretched themselves so far in hopes of getting a piece of an increasingly shrinking market which now belongs to online.

So Target's reaction to the competition is to simply stop shelving products that are available online? That seems self defeating to me. At least I'm coming into your store, do a better job at keeping me there to buy things.

FTA "limited edition merchandise on a rotating basis" AKA "We're going to try and sell the same products everyone else has but put the name of a famous celebrity on them to convince you to pay double what you would pay online for the same tangible product. Then we're going to keep it around just for a few weeks and spend our marketing dollars telling everyone that it's a limited time offer!"

Change or die, those who refuse to change DESERVE to die.

They allready do this with toys. (2)

Roobles (1880882) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871395)

They already do this with some toy lines. At least the line I know of/am aware of is My Little Pony. They offer exclusive toys that can't be found anywhere else, in a market that's suffering from variety/quality issues. So it's something I actually appreciate, and will cause me to enter Targets from time to time, when I would otherwise have no reason to. Toys-R-Us does this too, to the same effect.

I wouldn't mind seeing this business practice in other products, if it actually meant receiving quality alternatives.

Target is already doing this (2)

nomad63 (686331) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871409)

Has anyone else seen Isaac Mizrahi collection of women's wear anywhere else ? Or Mossimo brand of anything for that matter ? This is like google's privacy policy bruhaha. They are just making it public. And for the prices they sell the cheap Chinese knock off apparel, I'd rather go to Wallyworld and buy the 25-30% cheaper. They may not carry the same brand but who cares as long as they are going to fall apart in 2 washes, no matter what ? For other things like consumables, or tools or electronics for that matter, good luck to target to get manufacturers to make distinct enough products so that they can not be found elsewhere but I'd bet my pennies to your dollar, savvy shoppers are able to cut the crud and put a damper to this approach. Does it matter 1080P TV set with 1000:1 contrast ration to carry a different brand and barcode, compared to its equivalent sold in Amazon, as long as you know both are coming from the Foxcon slave camp in China ? I sure don't...

Different SKUs already widely used (4, Interesting)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871427)

At least here in the UK, the main PC / electronics retailers already have their own SKUs for essentially the same product available elsewhere. Only last week when browsing netbooks at my local Comet / PC World / Currys, I found several models of interest that I could find no information online for. I got chatting to one of the sales assistants about this and he admitted the main stores all do this now to combat customers going elsewhere. He also said it's very useful for them avoiding having to fulfill their price match guarantees because although the product may be identical elsewhere, it's a different SKU on their books.

how about better customer service without up sells (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871451)

Now people may pay a little more for good customer service but alot of the useing the store as a showroom comes from the extended warranty upsells that some times people at the store lie about what it covers, high priced cables that you don't need no a $50 HDMI cable is not better then a $10 one.

The magazine scam at checkout.

The geek squad that wants sales men over real techs.

Ever shop for a mattress? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871459)

Been done before...

Mattress Shopping (4, Informative)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871493)

This has been going on for years in the mattress industry. Identical products are sold under different labels, with huge markups. So there is an incentive to confound comparison shopping. They don't care about customer satisfaction or loyalty, because a mattress is not a frequent purchase.

Mattress pricing (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871775)

"Most big mattress chains double a wholesale price and then add some dollars for negotiating room, say local retailers and manufacturers. That means a $500 mattress can jump to $1,399 in the showroom. Typically, they say, big stores will cut those margins by no less than 50 percent for promotions. "

http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2012/01/as_mattress_world_closes_its_d.html [oregonlive.com]

Why I never shop retail anymore... (5, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871495)

ME: "Hey, do you have an XYZ Widget Plus in stock?"

Them: "No, that's not a normal stock item, but I can order one for you and have it here in a week for $250"

ME: "I can order it from Amazon Prime and have it here TOMORROW for $215, sorry."

The ONLY reason to go into a brick and mortar store is if you absolutely have to have it right now. Brick and Mortar did not adapt to the advent of online shopping. It's their fault. They needed to realize that they could no longer sell commoditized items. They would have to offer some REASON to pay MORE in a store. Without a significant value add, there's no reason to even set foot in a store anymore.

Re:Why I never shop retail anymore... (3, Informative)

jpwilliams (2430348) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871595)

The ONLY reason to go into a brick and mortar store is if you absolutely have to have it right now.

Big stores like Target, I totally agree. But for lots of specialty items (bikes, quality shoes, quality clothing), a brick-and-mortar can still offer expert assistance to keep customers. Sure, you can buy all those things online, and mine the collective opinions, but a seasoned sales professional can help you pick out what's right for you, not what the masses rank the highest. Unfortunately, I don't see that value-add model working for anything in Target, or even Best Buy, who's sales team, in my opinion, tends to know little about the products they sell.

Re:Why I never shop retail anymore... (0)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871727)

Without a significant value add, there's no reason to even set foot in a store anymore.

No, not if all you're concerned about is your own own wallet right this second. If you were concerned at all about your community, your neighbors, local jobs, taxes, etc., you'd find plenty of reason to shop locally. But hey, selfish and short sighted is the American Way!

Doublespeak (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871553)

asking vendors to create Target-exclusive products that can't be found online.

This strategy would help Target compete with retailers like Amazon on like-for-like products.

Those seem contradictory. Also, that doesn't help Target compete at all, it helps vendors compete against themselves and Target happens to win on one side of the competition (on the other side, some other outlet loses).

I personally don't have a problem shopping in retail stores for a wide variety of things so long as they're priced reasonably. Unfortunately for brick and mortars, if I find a similar product on Amazon for 40% less on a big ticket item, I'm also not stupid and neither are lots of other consumers. This happens frequently, and, if you're reading, I'm sorry, but it does not cost you a difference of $60 on a $150 item to display it in store and I will still not pay such a difference if you happen to have mildly different SKUs with minor feature differences.

Re:Doublespeak (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871735)

asking vendors to create Target-exclusive products that can't be found online.

This strategy would help Target compete with retailers like Amazon on like-for-like products.

Those seem contradictory.

The products are like-for-like, but the ones you see at Target are "Target-exclusive" and can't be found online because the SKU is slightly different.

It could work... (1)

jafo (11982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871579)

Or it could totally back-fire.

This knife cuts both ways... Yesterday I spent $300 at Best Buy because of "showroom"ing I did on Amazon (products, reviews), youtube (reviews, and video suggestions pointing me at other products oddly enough), and various google results. I planned on going to Target next, but Best Buy had both the items I was interested in.

I bought it at the store for one primary reason: I wanted it on Sunday, not Wednesday. (Note "wanted" not "needed").

I also bought it for a secondary reason: the product in question is audio speakers and I was worried that my primary choice would not have the audio quality I hoped for. At the store I was able to listen to them, determined that indeed I didn't like how they sounded, so I got my second choice. I could have done this all over the Internet, but that would have meant that it would have taken a week to resolve, with ordering, returning, ordering second choice. While I was there I bought a bag that I had also found online and just had not yet ordered, and a cable I needed to go with the speakers.

I'll admit that I mostly shop online. I've come to hate going into the store. Seems like about half the time I go in looking for something specific beyond the "staples", I find out they don't have it period or don't have it in stock. Then I feel like I've wasted gas and (more importantly to me) time hauling ass to the location to not end up getting something. For almost everything I get, I can wait a couple of days to receive it.

Shopping online has many compelling benefits, price is sometimes one of them, but often not THAT much of one. I also get to choose among, everything in the world versus the 2 or 3 choices I may get in a local store. I get to easily see what other people are saying about the different choices, I definitely don't get that in a store. I get to shop whenever is convenient for me, I'd guess that half of what I buy online I buy outside of the hours of 10am-9pm; I can buy it and be done with it rather than queue up a trip to the store to buy it later. Also, I don't have to spend 30+ minutes plus gas driving out to the store, or 10+ minutes if I'm already driving by the store.

Personally, I think the retailers should leverage their locations to get me my shit faster. I almost never buy from Target, Wal-Mart, or Best Buy online. Usually it's Amazon or New Egg. Now, if I could buy something online, and have them have a deal with UPS or have their own couriers bring it by my house the next day, that would be compelling to me. Their brick-and-mortar becomes a mini distribution center, and the products come bulk/freight to the local stores, then use UPS/FedEx/TargetExpress for the "last mile".

I call this "click-and-brick". :-)

A few pointers... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871629)

How about a few pointers.

1) Tell me if the product is in stock or out of stock for the locations near me. I much prefer to use cash and I don't like waiting for things to be shipped online. However, there are few things I hate more than going into a store to try to find X that their site says they have that happens to be out of stock or that the nearest store with it in stock is 50 miles away. How hard is it to keep products in stock? Electronic companies are the worst, you can apparently pay to take out a major ad saying you have X product for X price but when I ask for it your employees don't know what I'm talking about and it is out of stock. Same thing with brick and mortar cell phone companies, not too long ago I went to get an iPhone with a family member only to find out they were out of the iPhone 4S and the 3GS! Now how bad can your inventory management system be that your flagship phone is out of stock?

2) Sell cheaper products. Does it /really/ cost you more to get X than it does for Amazon? Chances are as a major retailer you can get large discounts. Use it to your customers advantage. There should be no reason that even through paying for shipping that something should be 25% less online.

3) Service. Train your employees (particularly those in the electronics department) to better serve customers. Know your products and train them to be objective and not salesmen. Yes, I /know/ that you are trying to sell me a more expensive cell phone with LTE but what I really need to know is if there is LTE coverage in my area before I can make that judgement.

4) Better product reviews online. Perhaps statistics like product returns, etc. would help because product reviews are thrown into 2 categories, either, this is the best thing I ever bought and works flawlessly or this is a piece of crap. Of course neither is really helpful in knowing whether to buy the product, did the person with a problem get it resolved? Was it particular to that one particular device? Or is it a design problem? Etc.

Does Target intentionally block cell reception? (5, Interesting)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871639)

There are two Targets near me, and I live in a major US suburban area. Outside either, cell phone reception (Verizon) is excellent. Ten feet inside the store, it drops to one bar and by the time you get very much further, it's NO SERVICE. It is generally impossible to call out or in to a cell phone in Target, or even to send SMS. It has been that way for at least three years, and my wife (who's lived in this part of town longer) says it's been that way as long as she can remember. Other friends say the same thing.

I'm sure Target doesn't have cell phone jammers installed - that would be illegal. But I wonder if they've designed their buildings to be cell-signal-unfriendly? I can imagine it has all sorts of benefits - employees can't covertly text while on duty, and shoppers can't price-compare on the Internet.

I have no proof...just my anecdotal experience.

There is a large Wal-mart supercenter near us, and my Verizon cell works fine throughout, only losing a bar or two in the middle of the store, which is several times the size of Target.

Re:Does Target intentionally block cell reception? (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871711)

I wonder if you have hit on a good business - design consultant when someone builds a new store...

Evolve. (0)

fatbuckel (1714764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871643)

Oh,no. Target takes a stand. News flash...stores like these sell re manufactured items and when you go to return the crap half the time you have to contact the manufacturer and RMA it back. Besides,the mouth-breathers that shop at Target (Wal-mart,etc.) don`t have the opposing thumbs needed to use the Internet. These stores need to adapt or die.

how about stuff I want to buy ? (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871701)

About two years ago, our coffee pot, a nice simple goodlooking Braun that didn't take up a lot of counterspace, broke. here in Boston, one of hte shopping meccas is Route 9 in Framingham - I went out there, and looked at Wal mart, and Target and Sears, and a couple of other stores. The ALL had the same stuff, and although they all had 15 or so different coffee makers on teh shelf, there was no real variety Just 2 or 3 basic models, with lots and lots of minor differences. Vacumn cleaners are even worse; Dyson is like a giant setback to civilization: why on earth would you buy a vacumn with a plastic thing you have to empty, spreading dust everywhere, as opposed to a dispo bag ? You would have to be crazy to buy a vacumn cleaner that doesn't have a throw away bag for the dirt Not to mention all those stupid plastic tailfin equivalents. and in all those stores, nothing like the basic 100 upright with a dispo bag (true story: in the 80s, by upright broke; on going to the store, I was told that Vacumns generate vacumn with a plastic fan blade; in the american models, teh fan is before the filter, so it can shatter if a penny gets sucked up; in the Japanese models, the fan is behind the filter. In my particular model changing the 5$ plastic fan blade was very nearly impossible, due to the snap together construction method) (end of rant)

Its like asking the search engines to take over... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38871779)

Its all fun and games until it enough retailers do it to matter.

Then google & company will differentiate their search engines by creating their own model # interchange DB's. It will be a cat and mouse game keeping the interchanges up to date. And to the winner goes the sale.

Transparent bundling can accomplish their goal. Artificial confusion just creates new markets for the information companies.

Partnerships and don't focus on product (3, Insightful)

devleopard (317515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38871801)

They're not going to stop this. A limited number of products that people comparison shop for can be made in store-specific versions (will there be a Target-only version of Madden?)

Why not embrace it, and partner with Amazon? They could even do a location-based search agreement.

They should push their advantages, which is not the product. They don't make Playstations or hair dryers, so to try to make your product your competitive advantage will always fail. They should push their sales focus to things that can't be comparison shopped easily (clothes, food, low cost items). Emphasize the time element (not a Target item, but I frequently buy computer and technology products at retail that I could easily save money at NewEgg on). Take the emotional approach: Make people feel guilty about not paying sales tax that benefits their state and municipality, and point out that buying local = jobs. Focus on ease of returns, and try to make that process easier. Emphasize services. Tell delivery horror stories. Etc, etc... I'm sure any or all of these can be argued down, but the bottom line is, a brick-and-mortar has competitive advantages, but they're not the product they're reselling, and it's not price.

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