Hard goods retailers have a problem. It's not a new problem, but it's one that is now acted out in near-real-time. When a shopper is planning to spend a large chunk of money on an appliance, television, computer, or mattress that shopper goes through a long and careful educational process. Digital channels help the hardlines retailer educate the consumer in near real-time.But while they're getting educated on brands, products and lifestyles, those same shoppers are also getting educated on price. And there lies the rub. No shopper is going to spend that large chunk of money without confirming that the retailer is reasonably close on price. It has always been so.No hardgoods retailer can survive if they're completely out of the ballpark on price, but they have to find another way to differentiate. And most retailers recognize that the core differentiator then becomes service. And service really must be in the hands of in-store employees. This is easy to say, but not so easy to do.
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