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Target expands mobile commerce presence with gift cards

To keep up with consumers’ increasing dependence on their mobile phones, Target is letting customers use their wireless devices as gift cards.

Target claims to be the first major retailer with the ability to scan mobile bar codes in all of its stores. The retailer said this latest mobile program is consistent with its “Expect More. Pay Less” brand promise.

“Target offers a number of on-the-go solutions like Target Mobile gift cards because mobile devices have become a popular technology in our guests’ lives,” said Sara Moore, a spokeswoman for Target, Minneapolis. “Target continues to innovate in mobile technology to improve the guest experience.”

Target has 1,740 department stores in 49 states nationwide.

Gift of mobile
Consumers can save their gift card information to a PIN-secure account on the mobile site.

To use the mobile phone as the gift card, the device has to have Internet capabilities.

Consumers can check balances at any time via the mobile site.

In addition, the mobile gift card functionality lets consumers save multiple gift cards to their account and label each one for reference.

Target’s point-of-sale bar-code-scanning technology makes the mobile gift cards possible.

Hitting the mobile target
In December, Target detailed its 360-degree approach to using mobile for building brand awareness, promoting specific deals and enhancing the convenience of the shopping experience (see story).

This past holiday season, Target added new components to its mobile Web site and iPhone application.

The retailer launched mobile access to its Checklists, Merry Planner Calendar, Perfect Gift Pairings, Target Christmas Videos and a Gift Finder. Target consumers can also opt-in for holiday-planning text-message alerts (see story).

The retailer also served as the launch sponsor of The CW network’s new iPhone application, CW City Wize.

The application offers map of locations featured on three CW dramas: “Gossip Girl,” “90210” and “Melrose Place.” Locations such as restaurants, hotels and spas where characters are seen in the three different shows are plotted in a map view, as are Target retail locations (see story).

On Target’s mobile site and application, consumers can view online assortments, check product availability and store locations, manage their Target gift registry and lists, browse the weekly ad, and receive text and email notifications of deals.

Target is promoting the new mobile offerings via on the PC and mobile Web.

“Target Mobile GiftCards simplifies guests’ shopping experience because they no longer need to carry and keep track of numerous GiftCards,” Ms. Moore said. “At Target, mobile is a marketing and service channel.

“It’s a way to promote products, build brand awareness, engage guests, and help guests make the most of their Target shopping experiences,” she said. “We are committed to creating a useful and relevant experience to all mobile users – from guests looking for basic features to those who are who want more advanced applications.”