On the management consulting siding of my life this is a major issue that retailers in many segments are trying to address and goes by the term showrooming. The example usually given at conferences, in position papers, etc. is electronics stores: people go into a big box electronic store and check out flat screen TVs and other big ticket goods, decide what they want, and then go by it online from an ecommerce-only retailer and save $; so the physical store is inadvertently and detrimentally serving as the "showroom" for their online competitors.
Companies are trying all kinds of things to combat that but most involve beefing up their own online presence with add-on, synergistic services; but I've never heard of anybody in electronics, sporting goods, or any other segment even contemplating charging for browsing. Looking at the article, even though that was the headline and lead-in it seemed to be more of an off-the-cuff, "hey, here's a really-out-there" idea rather than one of much substance before shifting into pricing, DRM, and other topics.
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