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25pc of Target holiday shoppers used in-app product location maps

Target continues to build its mobile prowess both in-store and online, as reflected by the retailer dropping its free-shipping minimum to $25 and newly revealed results showing that 25 percent of shoppers used its in-app product location maps during the holidays.

The new shipping threshold is effective immediately and comes on the heels of positive customer response to the retailer’s free shipping options during the holiday season. Guests that prefer to shop online or via mobile devices will likely take advantage of this offer during sale times or seasonal events, while Target also ramps up in-store sales via the new maps located in its mobile application.

“Target is taking bold steps to be an ecommerce leader, and making our free-ship minimum one of the best in retail is just our latest effort to enhance the online shopping experience for guests,” said Target spokesman Eddie Baeb, Minneapolis, MN. “We know that shipping costs are a major barrier for online purchases.

“The decision to lower the year-round free shipping threshold to $25 was made based on the success we saw from creating the $50-threshold sitewide last summer, and the great guest response to our free shipping offer on all purchases this past holiday.”

Ramping up sales
Target believes it is putting guests first by decreasing the free shipping minimum, making it more likely for many consumers to shop online and take advantage of the offer. Other free fulfillment options include in-store pickup for eligible purchases and free shipping on many online orders made with Target’s REDcard.

Target is keeping consumers satisfied with online orders by recently beginning to ship certain products from participating stores rather than only shipment centers. However, the brand will open two more online fulfillment centers to ensure that guests receive their orders in a timely fashion.

Lowering the complimentary shipping minimum will likely drive mcommerce sales, as many other brands have also turned to mobile to leverage flash sales and personalized deals that spur consumers to purchase products or services (see story).

“We’ve seen very strong growth in mobile sales and traffic, and we continue to emphasize mobile as we view it as the new front door to Target,” Mr. Baeb said.

The lower threshold can help drive impulse buys on mobile, a tactic that retailers especially rely on during peak sale times.

In a separate development, the retailer is also enjoying a fruitful period of in-store sales that have been augmented by consumers’ use of the Target mobile app while shopping in store, which was especially high during the holidays. Last fall, Target rolled out a series of in-app maps that displayed products’ locations on shelves so that consumers could quickly find their desired items.

“The Black Friday maps were only live for a week and a half, and had up to three to 400,000 unique users using the maps,” said Josh Marti, CEO and co-founder of Point Inside, Seattle, WA. “We had pretty good penetration into the overall set of finite mobile users.

“This is further proof Target wants to extend the engagement on mobile.”

“At least 25 percent of the people used the maps while in line or getting ready to go into the shopping experience,” he said.

“People that viewed the map at home were 50 percent more likely to head into the store versus regular use people. We attribute that to the fact that thinking about the store in general lowers your shoulders as a shopper and relieves anxiety.”

Importance of in-app maps
In-app maps are a tactic that more retailers are gravitating towards, especially during major holiday or seasonal sales.

“Doorbuster deals were not placed in logical areas, so it was definitely helpful to have a map,” Mr. Marti said.

Lowe’s is another brand that Point Inside teamed up with to drive in-store shopping behavior, via weekly ads that were superimposed in the bottom and top of the app. Users could hit a button and then receive the exact location of the advertised products.

Offering consumers locations of in-store items has been proven to ramp up in-store sales, something which also may be enhanced when more retailers begin to implement beacon technology.

“It lays the foundation of framework for how retailers can instantly create these promotions independent of Black Friday,” Mr. Marti said.

Point Inside is urging retailers to invest more heavily in search options within their app and mimic Target’s strategy of engaging consumers via mobile devices while shopping in the bricks-and-mortar locations.

“I would suggest answering up front: do you have the item I’m looking for, and where is it?” Mr. Marti said. “A lot of existing mobile strategies are starting to recognize they’re just replicas of ecommerce strategies.

“Ask users in-app about search and product location. 2015 is still a back-to-basics year for mobile and for retail. To treat it as anything other than that means that you will have flat growth.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York