Tim O’Reilly – Google+ – Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop…

Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop Selling Kindles

Maybe it doesn’t matter in the end to the Amazon steamroller, but this seems like a good case of “what goes around comes around”.

From the article:

“Like other big retailers, Target has been trying to figure out how to stop Amazon shoppers from visiting Target stores to check out products, and then buy them online from Amazon. It is a practice encouraged by Amazon; over the Christmas holiday, for example, the company offered a promotion on its Price Check app that gave shoppers 5 percent off any item scanned at a store.

“Now that retailers like Target are aware of this so-called showrooming, carrying Amazon’s Kindle is a little “like Starbucks selling Dunkin’ Donuts gift certificates,” said Michael Norris, a senior analyst for Simba Information.”

IMO, it’s a natural competitive pressure for companies to face internet comparison shopping by consumers. But it’s entirely another for Amazon to actually run promotions encouraging them to shop in other people’s stores, but then buy on Amazon, as they did last Christmas.

If you think about it the right way, it’s a kind of “theft of service.” The retailer with the showroom is in a tacit exchange with the customer: We will provide you with this amenity – the chance for you to lay your hands on the goods and take a look at them – in exchange for the chance to sell them to you.

As I wrote in my 2003 piece, “Buy where you shop” (http://tim.oreilly.com/articles/buy_where_shop.html), if consumers break this bargain, they ultimately won’t have the showroom to go to. That’s short sighted. But when one retailer, like Amazon, urges customers to use a service funded by a competitor but not to pay for it, that’s sleazy, especially when that other retailer is a partner.

I always think of something Walt Mossberg once told me he’d said to Microsoft: “If you guys would dial back the greed just 5%, everyone wouldn’t hate you so much.”

It’s that last extra squeeze that makes people turn on you. Right now, Amazon is still a darling of consumers (including me), but if their business practices are any indicator, their future is less rosy.

I have such mixed feelings about Amazon, Jekyll and Hyde that they are, incredible visionary value creator and hyper-competitive boot-heel in the face “partner.”

via Tim O’Reilly – Google+ – Target, Unhappy With Being an Amazon Showroom, Will Stop….

Original article O’Reilly references here.