Target Targets Amazon as Showrooming Enabler

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Independent bookstores aren’t the only retailers chafing at the practice of showroom. Just ask Target.

In showrooming, customers enter a retail store and, when they have located the product they’re shopping for, walk out, go home and purchase the item on the Internet at a lower price. Some shoppers simply scan the barcode of the production in the store and order it online on the spot. This in effect makes the brick and mortar store a mere showroom for customers to examine products they have no intention of buying there. Last Christmas Amazon actually promoted the practice, outraging alarming and outraging many stores and store chains. We know of at least one publisher that fought back by discontinuing distribution of its books on Amazon. (See David Poops on Goliath)

The latest objector is Target, the giant retail store chain. Executives, reacting to what they perceived as showrooming of Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, informed Amazon they would no longer carry it.

Though Amazon sells most of its Kindles on its own website, many customers like to examine them physically, just as they may now do with Kindle’s rival, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, which may be “road-tested” by customers in B&N’s brick and mortar bookstore. Recognizing consumers’ natural impulse to touch, Amazon began distributing Kindles in big retail chains.

It’s hard to predict what impact Target’s action will have on Kindle sales. With nearly 1,770 stores in 49 states and gross revenues of $65 billion, boycott of a product by Target can have some seriously detrimental impact on any supplier. More ominously, if Staples, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, which also sell Kindles, see themselves as showrooming victims and follow Target’s lead, it could put a crimp in Amazon’s sales – and its image.

For the complete story read Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop Selling Kindles by Stephanie Clifford and Julie Bosman in the New York Times.

Richard Curtis

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