Vanaf het moment dat Internet op kwam werd de vraag gesteld of verkoop via Internet een effect zou hebben op de verkopen via andere kanalen. Senior analist Ross Rubin (eMarketer) laat zien dat Internet zowel complementair als competitief kan zijn.
One of the great lessons to come away from the Internet boom, as scores of pure-play retailers foundered, was that consumers shop for multiple items in multiple ways across multiple channels.
Data certainly indicates that consumers flock to multiple channels and there is evidence that online and brick-and-mortar channels can complement each other, especially for tasks such as in-store pickups and returns. Circuit City, for example, has been very aggressive in experimenting with this concept. Not only has it promoted the feature both on its Web site and in national television commercials, but it has also formed a partnership with Amazon.com that allows customers to purchase items on its Web site and pick them up in physical stores. In 2002, Circuit City estimated that slightly more than 50% of its online sales were delivered to customers at local retail stores, according to InternetRetailer. Of course customers taking advantage of the placement on Amazon must purchase at Circuit City prices, even if they are higher than those advertised by Amazon.
There is also evidence that the Internet competes with traditional store purchases. According to the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, nearly two-thirds of users surveyed in 2002 said that the Internet had reduced their in-store shopping at least somewhat. That number represented a 12% jump from 2001 and a reversal of the trend seen from 2000 to 2001.