As a graduate student in history I learned a very important lesson:
History, contrary to popular belief, does not actually repeat itself.
History is linear, not cyclical.
It is better to consider history as an enormous chain of cause-and-effect, rather than a spiral of repetition.
That said, I want to put a quick spotlight on how stores are trying to combat “showrooming” (looking at a product in a store, then ordering online), by explaining a quick chain of cause-and-effect. My goal here is to briefly discuss how cause-and-effect is the driving force behind “showrooming” and how cyclical-thinking will not be helpful in solving this problem.
Let’s consider the “cause” here as the cause of a problem and the “effect” as the solution (however temporary) to the problem.
CAUSE: The debut and rise to popularity of e-commerce was mainly centered on companies without a physical store (mainly Amazon and EBay). Without overhead or sales reps, these companies were largely successful and they stole a market share from companies that sold similar products in their physical stores for a higher price.
EFFECT: As a result of the loss in market share, companies began selling their products online too, often at lower prices.
CAUSE: Lower prices online meant more people wanted to buy online, but they still wanted to see and feel the products.
EFFECT: People learned that they could go to a store, determine exactly what they wanted to buy, then purchase it at a lower price online. This is known as “showrooming”.
CAUSE: Shoppers go to stores at the same rate, but make fewer purchases due to showrooming.
EFFECT: Find a solution to showrooming.
At this point, it should be clear that the solution to showrooming can’t be to go *back* to the initial phase.
This is not a cyclical issue. This is a linear issue.
Behavior, like history, is not repetitive. Behavior is built on cause-and-effect.
So where do we stand now?
CAUSE: Stores must find a solution for showrooming in order to combat e-commerce and increase their market share.
EFFECT: Unknown, but here is a possible next step in the process (see picture above):http://adage.com/article/digital/buy-startup-edo-combat-black-friday-showrooming/238426/