Cause-and-Effect in History and in Behavior: Showrooming


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):

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