It was time to retire of one my running shoes. While Chennai hosts one of Indian’s largest marathons, specialty running stores are limited here. As a result, I landed up some in a random Nike showroom. Soon a salesman convinced us on a pair of Nike Pegasus 30. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the colour we wanted, and the store didn’t offer a discount on that model while everything else was on sale. With a tap of a few buttons, I figured Amazon had what we wanted, that too at 20% discount. While I promised the salesman I will come back the next day, I am sure he guessed I was never coming back. While he did everything right, Lucifer had spiked my soul out for a measly 1200 bucks!
With VC funded eCommerce companies fighting for market share, offline stores barely match up on price. Just a few weeks back I noticed Landmark & Lifestyle stores in Chennai selling a 100ml bottle of Paco Rabanne Black XS at 3700, while Amazon.in sold one to me for 2200 bucks! A whopping 40% cheaper! Given the credibility of Amazon, one would believe that these are genuine products. While the sales manager in the Nike showroom patiently gave me all the information I needed, he lost it because of factors out of his control. Being a franchise he wasn’t going to get a cut out of my spend, I felt bad for him, but I wasn’t going to miss a 20%.
Meet the new age shopper: Window shop and try everything in a store but swipe the card online. If you are retailer you’ll hate this tribe but the question is, what do they do to compete with eCommerce. How long will the eCommerce stores continue to deep discount, at the cost of VC funding? While I wouldn’t mind a small premium for the store experience, 20% was too much.
Why can’t these two models merge? Why can’t retail stores allow you to place orders online? Perhaps stores will have to become smaller, staff lesser, hold very limited stock and just offer one sample per model for trial & fitting. Difficult but not impossible. In the long run, that seems to be the only way out – giving the customer the best of both worlds.