Target vs. Amazon: A battle over ‘showrooming’

Molly Wood May 4, 2012

It’s a retail rumble! A battle for the buyer! Two retailers enter the Thunderdome! ONLY ONE LEAVES!

Okay, pardon my hyperbole but Target and Amazon are at war. Target is going to stop selling the Amazon Kindle in its stores. The issue seems to be a practice known as “showrooming.” That’s when a web retailer like Amazon encourages customers to go to a store like Target, scan the barcode of an item with a smartphone, then see if they can get it cheaper online. Maybe buy it from Amazon while they’re standing in Target.

Showrooming is on the rise, says Jeffrey Grau, an analyst with eMarketer, and retailers are getting nervous.

Jeffrey Grau: The threat of showrooming is really a nuisance now. It stands to be a much bigger threat in the future.

Moe: is this driving down prices in retail stores themselves in order to compete?

Jeffrey Grau: That’s one way they’re trying to compete is by offering incentives to shop at the store. But there’s others as well. They’re offering exclusive products or bundling services. If you buy HDTV, we’ll install it for you, trying to make it difficult to make a comparison with an online competitor.

You may see lower prices as this battle heats up but Faith Hope Consolo of The Retail Group says your life won’t necessarily be easier.

Faith Hope Consolo: It’s going to continue to confuse the shopper. The shopper is always concerned not only are they getting the best deal, the best price, but are they making the right purchase. I think it makes the shopper go back and do more research, and sometimes what it does to sales is that it delays the sale, because sometimes the shopper becomes so confused, they end up not buying anything

Suddenly all stores are inconvenience stores.


Email is destroying you.

Gloria Mark is part of a research team at University of California, Irvine that studied stress levels of workers in an office environment.

Gloria Mark: One group was allowed to use email, one group was not. We found that those people who had email cut off had stress reduced and they also multitasked less.

Moe: And I understand you used heart monitors.

Mark: Yes. So we had people walking around having heart monitors strapped around their chest and then we could record second by second heart rate, and this is a very direct measure of stress.

Moe: what about stress of heart monitors?

Mark: Most people told us that they completely forgot they were wearing heart monitors.

Moe: People at work, not using email while at work?

Mark: That’s right.

Moe: Email is a huge part of my work life. Nice idea, but that doesn’t seem practical.

Mark: Well, turns out people walked around the office more. So, if they needed to contact someone, they would get out and walk out of the office and walk over and meet with them. We also asked the colleagues in their surrounding workplace networks if they had difficulty getting information or contacting the person, and we found no significant difference between people’s ability to reach someone or get information when they had email vs. when they didn’t have email.

Gloria Mark from U.C. Irvine, to whom you mustn’t forward cat videos.

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