buckworks - 2:06 am on Feb 11, 2010 (gmt 0)
You have to know WHY the competitor is cheaper before you decide where your sympathies lie.
I'm familiar with a sector in which the online discounters openly encourage shoppers to go to the local brick-and-mortar dealer to examine the products, get expert consultation to figure out exactly what would suit their needs best, then come back to order online at their no-services price. The discounters offload some significant costs, and the store who actually serves the customer is left with nothing for their troubles.
Manufacturers who have this kind of thing happening in their sectors face the very real problem that brick and mortar stores get fed up with acting as free showrooms for their competitors, and they simply stop carrying those lines.
If shoppers can't examine the product in person before they buy, they are a lot more hesitant to order the product online, so the manufacturer loses from both ends.
And consumers end up with fewer choices, so they're not being well served either.