“Showrooming” involves customers visiting a store to seek advice or to experience a product, but completing the purchase through an internet retailer or directly with the brand. It has become such a menace for bricks-and-mortar retailers that a number of defences are hastily being attempted. These range from the logical but probably unsustainable strategy of price-matching the internet (as in the case of Best Buy), to Canute-like denial (Target delisting Kindle) and desperate tactics such as charging fitting fees for sports shoes (like some Australian retailers).
Meanwhile, brand owners, concerned at the increasing cost and declining quality of retail distribution, are exploring other routes – a tour round Westfield will find stores from Lego, Speedo and Sony alongside Apple, Disney and Nike – all brands that are becoming at least partly vertically integrated.
If multi-brand retailers are to address these threats, they need to re-persuade brand owners of their relevance…
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