How do you get the most value out of your dollar? Do you rely solely on price at retail, or does a positive in-store customer experience matter to you as well?
Showrooming is the name for what people do when they go to a retailer, find something they like and then they take out their smart phone to take a picture of the barcode. Using any of a variety of apps, they can then get instant price comparisons from other nearby retailers and online competitors. That's put traditional brick-and-mortar retailers into defensive mode.
Meanwhile, I was surprised to see definitive numbers in The Wall Street Journal saying that if you go to Target and shop in store, you will pay on average more than at Target.com. Same thing for shopping at a WalMart store vs. WalMart.com.
So with WalMart, for example, you can buy something online and pick it up in the store on the same day for cheaper than if you just walked in and bought it. You don't pay shipping costs with their Site to Store online option, either.
Moreover, Amazon remains cheaper than either Target or WalMart. The Wall Street Journal cites numbers that find Amazon is 11% cheaper on electronics than a WalMart store; 14% cheaper than Target.com; and 8% cheaper than Best Buy.
My gut tells me that retailers will eventually figure out how to compete. Online sales only accounts for about 8% of the total retail picture. That means 92% of all retail action continues to be done in brick-and-mortar stores.
Online has a loooong way to go, and there's plenty of time for traditional stores to figure it out.
I can already tell you the key for so many retailers is going to be service, service, service. Price is only one factor. The more you do to make it a pleasant experience in-person for the customer, the more you can do to fight back against the online sales channel.