A specialty food store in Brisbane, Australia posted this sign, demanding a $5 deposit from people who enter the shop, refundable with your purchase. They are trying to curb 'showrooming' -- when customers of online businesses use brick-and-mortar competitors as showrooms to check ou!t goods before they order them."
Though the BoingBoing article is outcry against this type of charge today, in the future, I think it'll be perfectly reasonable.
It's just a matter of perspective.
When Amazon eventually roles out an Amazon retail store, do you really think that they're going to keep in inventory ALL of the millions of different products they stock? Most likely, they'll have a showroom location with thousands (but not millions) of different products on display, and once you find what you want to purchase, and pay for it, it'll be waiting for you at home when you get back (via same day shipping.) After companies like Amazon role out this kind of store, the small niche shops will follow suit and eventually, you'll never have to carry your products home from the store.
So how does this relate to charging $5 to browse a store that the customer isn't planning to make a purchase from? Why couldn't you have retail stores that don't actually sell anything? Some day soon, you'll into a store, see some samples and then pull out your iPhone and order something online from a different business. How does the first retail establishment get paid? Well, at first, it'll be via mechanisms like this $5 charge. It's not difficult though to imagine how you could assign affiliate codes not based on what website redirected the user to the final sale (ala Amazon), but instead assign affiliate codes based on the geographic coordinates of the user when they actually make the purchase.
Taking it a step farther, why not have geographic coordinate-based cookies? So, if you go into a store today, and then order a product that you saw in the store tomorrow, from your home, the cookie will persist and the original retail store will get a commission on the sale.
Someone is going to make a billion off this idea. Please let me know if you do.