Tech Talk: On The Mark

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Among retailers’ concerns this holiday season are taking the necessary precautions so that customers feel safe when shopping in stores. To boost in-store shopping, Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Target Corporation implemented a roll-out of new procedures, including a new technology that relays information to customers in real time, to more smoothly streamline their shopping trips.

Using Wallet, the mobile payment option in the Target app, customers can use the app to pay for products selected in-store, eliminating the need to pick up the barcode-scanning device at check-out, and the associated germ spread. Target distributed 1,000 more MyCheckout devices to its more than 1,800 U.S. stores, allowing employees to check-out guests anywhere in the store, reducing lines. It also designed a system for guests to make pre-trip shopping reservations. By visiting target.com/line, guests can check to see if there’s a line outside their local Target store, and, if so, reserve their spot. When it’s their turn to enter, guests will receive a text from Target.

Target also enhanced some of its same-day services. Drive Up—an option in the Target app that allows users to purchase product and have a Target employee bring the purchase to their vehicle—added 8,000 more parking spaces to Target stores across the county, and did away with the need for Target employees to scan customers’ barcodes during Drive Up. Using the app, guests can also adjust their order pick-up times in real time, providing leniency during an oftentimes stressful holiday season, and 80 percent of its U.S. stores will be offering fresh and frozen food pickup via curbside.

Target is a company that’s shown its ability to adapt—by year-end it’s on track to add fulfillment centers to 1,000 of its locations to speed up delivery—and this is yet another way it’s attempting to get customers back into stores, especially during a time when ecommerce has risen steeply. Deloitte anticipates ecommerce sales to grow 25-35 percent this season. On the contrary, data from ShopperTrak, a global retail analytics provider, estimated that in-store traffic will be down 22-25 percent over last year during the six-week holiday shopping season.  

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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