...How about some retailers -- especially so-called "specialty" retailers -- actually keep some products in stock for people to buy? It's becoming ever more common now that "this 'online thing' is the hot new fad" that physical retailers don't actually have any of the items I'm looking for available to sell to me. The story is, "well, that's an online only item so we can ORDER it and have it shipped to the store by next week..."
If I wanted to order whatever item, I could order it my damn self. The reason I didn't order it in the first place is because I want or need it now. This is especially a problem with things like computer parts, connectors, and cables -- Things that aren't just some shiny tech object I want to have in my hands right now, but stuff I need to actually fix somebody's computer. I also have big problems with this with outdoor and camping equipment, and sometimes auto parts. Ordering in the product doesn't help me when there's a hole in my tent or the car's in pieces in the driveway.
Moreover, some places' websites are getting better about listing which items actually exist in their stores for you to buy (Target) but others are absolutely terrible in this regard (Sears, Kmart), and extra special hateful mention goes to Wal Mart, who have taken a step backwards and made it MORE difficult to use their site to figure out what items are online only or in stock in a store when you USED to be able to do so easily. (It also doesn't help that they removed SKU and UPC numbers from their website in the wake of the old barcoding scandal in the midwest last year or so, even though this information was often the only way to make select clueless Wal Mart employees reliably go in the stockroom and find the item you want which was inexplicably never put on the shelf.)
In many cases, I will happily pay a little bit more to A) have the gizmo, part, or repair item now, rather than next week, and B) have someplace to return it to without having to pay shipping, jump through the Flaming Hoops of RMA, and wait another two weeks if the item turns out to be FUBAR. I already refuse to buy hard drives mail-order from anyone, as it is such a pain in the ass to get the online retailer to authorize a return and cough up a working one when just one drive out of the batch is invariably dead on arrival. The computer parts chain stores around here will price match reputable online retailers on hard drive prices if the prices aren't identical anyway, so the difference is moot.
While I'm complaining, the final insult perpetrated by big box retailers that drives me nuts is putting away "seasonal" merchandise or, more commonly, sending it back to the distribution warehouse when they decide you don't "need" to buy it. Okay, I can understand the need to use seasonal shelf space for movers like Christmas items and so forth, and having worked in hardware store retail for years and years I had to do similar things. But in our case we put the current seasonal stuff in the prominent shelf location and just moved the out-of-season merchandise to a less prominent spot and probably shelf it in a much more compact/less appealing manner (to save space) because invariably someone wants to buy a heater in July or, (as I tried to do just a few days ago) buy a garden hose reel in January. I can, of course, buy either of these items any damn time of the year online if I want to pay to have a hose reel or whatever shipped to my door. I once had Target REFUSE to sell me a fan in the wintertime even though they had one in stock in the stockroom according to their point-of-sale system because it was "out of season" and might "complicate their inventory." I didn't need the fan to keep cool in February; I needed it for ventilation.
If retailers want online places to stop eating their lunch they need to get their collective shit together, not make up new and useless private label products. Private label products already exist, and already suffer from the phenomenon that's going to shoot this initiative full of holes wherein whoever is contracted to make the product (because Target/Wal Mart/etc. have zero manufacturing capability and will farm this task out to a third party, probably in China) will instantly figure out that the same private-label item can be called a different "brand" and sold online, minus the overhead, minus the middlemen and licensing costs, for cheaper than the physical retailer. If some contracting agreement legally prevents this, the supplier's uncle's cousin's bother's manufacturing plant over in the next province will copy the product and do so instead. Exactly as already happens today, with private label products that already exist. Surprise! This idea isn't new. The only difference is putting the new-and-trendy smartphone stamp on it, and people like me were comparison shopping on our dumb phones, PDA's, laptops, and (gasp) telephones via the yellow pages long before anyone in supply chain management had a clue what a smart phone even was.