Here’s a recent comment (from RetailWire) in response to a story about Target trying to fight the trend toward “showrooming”…that is, when customers come to its stores to look at products, and then price-compare via their smartphones. This looks like an uphill battle for Target:
Target is admitting — through its letter to vendors — that it has a pricing problem. It should have taken steps a long time ago to develop more exclusive merchandise that would be more difficult to price-compare. But at this point the smartphone genie is hard to put back into the bottle.
Target has a couple of options: First, make sure that its prices are competitive in the first place. (After all, consumers can price-compare its website vs. other e-commerce sites without setting foot in the store.) And, second, push its vendors harder (as it seems to be doing) to differentiate its merchandise.
Fundamentally, this story underlines the built-in conflict in Target’s brand promise, especially as the store becomes more focused on competing in food and commodities.