E-tail Vs Retail

This is interesting. Read this article from TechCrunch - the shop owner is charging the patrons for looking at the items in her shop.

I believe this was long overdue. Most of us (including myself!!) visit a store, check out the item, ask numerous question, look at the comparable models, negotiate and step out with shaky promise of coming back for purchase. Then go online, check out the lowest price available and order. Boom... there goes the profit of the brick and mortar store.. Not just the profit, but it also cost him/her the time, probably the salary of sales person, rent of the place, inventory cost and what not!!

The amount of $5 is not important. It may not really be the cost associated with each onlooker. What is important is that the shop-owners are facing very different problem which they have not yet solved and trying to find out ways to monetize the physical shop that they have setup with huge investments. While it doesn't cost the Internet savvy customers to do "window shopping" on the internet ( that is visiting multiple websites and comparing features and prices), it does cost to the websites and the shop owners. While to cost per such customer for the websites if fractional, it is not the same for the shop owners. And it is the pain point for them. 

Now it remains to be seen how many real customers would be driven away because of this policy, which otherwise could have entered the shop and bought it from there. However, if this thing catches up heavily then consumers will have no choice but to enter the shop and pay those "looking charges" or get comfortable with online shopping!!


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