Target was among the first major Brick & Mortar retailers to begin offering the Kindle to its customers. For many people there was a period when this was literally the only place they could try out an eReader in person rather than blindly trusting that it would meet their needs. Now, with the Kindle everywhere and Amazon widely demonized as the bane of all storefront business, Target has decided that it would be best to say goodbye to the Kindle and Amazon for good.
Target Corp manages over 1,700 stores as well as a major retail website of its own. The company become a huge name recently by beginning to pass Walmart as the most inexpensive shopping location available for a variety of goods. While overall still slightly behind Walmart in general, it was reported last year that Target had begun to reliably offer less expensive grocery and household goods to its customers.
This is relevant to the company’s ending their Kindle partnership because the reason cited for the move was an increasingly popular practice called “showrooming”. Showrooming is what retailers have come to call the act of window shopping in a local store while comparing prices with online outlets like Amazon.com on a smartphone. It can result in impressive savings for customers, but big retailers complain that it amounts to little more than exploitation.
Amazon is tied into this practice fairly deeply. In addition to offering the widest selection of inexpensive goods on the internet and a subscription-based service that allows free two day shipping to reduce wait times, the internet giant has even created smartphone apps to make the act of showrooming as painless as possible. Using their smartphone apps, customers can simply scan the barcode of whatever they are interested in and be taken to the Amazon.com page selling it.
While it is definitely understandable that Target would be upset by the practice and with Amazon in general, it is hard to imagine this as a particularly productive move on their parts. While Target undoubtedly earned little money off of individual Kindle device sales, the Kindle line was their bestselling tablet/eReader this past holiday season and it is almost impossible to actually use a Kindle for showrooming given that even the Kindle Fire lacks a camera and cellular connectivity. At best this is a punitive move rather than an obviously productive one.
Interestingly, this plan does coincide with the decision to add internal Apple shops to a number of storefronts over the coming year. The Kindle and all related accessories might be in the process of disappearing from stores, but they have stated that “We will continue to offer our guests a full assortment of e-readers and supporting accessories.” Presumably that means the Nook will be sticking around. If you are in the market for a Kindle, you can still find them at any number of retailers including Best Buy, Walmart, and Staples.