Target rethinks curbside pickup, launches new test
- Target is testing a new curbside pickup service at three Minneapolis-area stores, Target spokesman Eddie Baeb told Retail Dive in an email. "The new service is designed for busy guests on the go, and we hope it will become another convenient and easy way to shop Target. We’ll expand the team-member test to additional Minneapolis-area stores, and hope to make the service guest-facing in coming months," he said.
The service, which went live for employees this month, is available when customers place online or mobile orders. Upon arriving at the closest retail location, shoppers can park in dedicated spaces near the front of the store and have employees bring items directly to their car.
The pilot is the retailer’s second attempt at cracking the code on a curbside option for those who buy online pickup in store (BOPIS). Target's first attempt, launched in 2014 in partnership with startup Curbside, came to a halt last year as Chief Technology Officer Mike McNamara scaled back a number of projects.
In an effort to increase the convenience of in-store pickup and drive more shoppers to stores, Target is taking another crack at getting curbside BOPIS right — and for good reason.
Just this week, JDA released a report framing in-store pickup as the “cure for the store." More than half (54%) of shoppers say they prefer to shop in store over digital channels including online, mobile and social media, according to its third annual Consumer Pulse Survey, which also found “a quick and easy shopping experience” was favored by 75% of survey respondents over a “personalized experience.”
If BOPIS is the cure to declining traffic and sales, sign Target up. But BOPIS is, in many ways, as complicated as the acronym implies. And while Target already has a robust in-store order pickup service, it has stumbled to get curbside pickup right in the past. Target previously told The Consumerist that its first pilot on curbside pickup, which launched in 121 stores in San Francisco Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, was shut down in order to focus on “retail fundamentals” like tech initiatives and omnichannel efforts.
Target’s take two on curbside pickup falls in line with its omnichannel push for customer convenience. In March, CEO Brian Cornell, during a keynote speech at Shoptalk 2017, said physical and digital activity are working in tandem to drive the next phase of the retailer’s evolution. “About 50% of Americans live less than four miles of a Target store. That’s a huge competitive advantage. We’re turning our stores into fulfillment centers — we can ship twice as fast, and dramatically reduce costs compared to traditional [distribution centers],” he said at the time.
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