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Target exec says bricks-and-mobile commerce is logical next step

PALM DESERT, CA – A Target executive at eTail West 2015 discussed the retailer’s challenges and successes in integrating mobile with the physical in-store experience, claiming that guests using its mobile application while shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store spend more than those that do not.

During the “Keynote: Defining The New Retail Experience – Stores And Mobile” session, the executive admitted Target’s initial reluctance to take risks and change along with the increasingly digital-oriented consumer, although the brand’s heavy focus toward mobile has now placed it as a frontrunner of the retail industry. The Target mobile app’s features were specifically designed to form a streamlined shopping experience, inspire consumers to purchase more items and help the brand take another step to become a bricks-and-mobile store by blurring lines between the physical and digital.

“Retail is going through an incredible transformation,” said Jamil Ghani, vice president of enterprise strategy at Target, Minneapolis, MN. “All of these different touch points are blurring together.

“We’re focusing not only to fulfill our guests’ needs, but fulfill their potential.”

Digital challenges
Mr. Ghani advised marketers to look inward and identify their strengths and weaknesses before the brand begins thinking about the entire ecosystem, from localizing offerings and sending targeted messages, to leveraging mobile to blur the lines between the physical and digital world.

“This is a huge step change,” Mr. Ghani said. “It requires thinking holistically about the guest experience.”

Although Target had a fruitful year in mobile in 2014, the brand struggled with some challenges in changing their digital landscape and adapting to consumers’ needs. The retailer had become too risk-averse, and needed to realize that its guests were changing faster than the brand was.

“We rebuilt all of our digital experiences from the ground up,” Mr. Ghani said. “Our culture was holding on to some old beliefs and behaviors. We’ve reversed course.”

Bricks-and-mobile experience
Target is continuously working toward offering what it refers to as a bricks-and-mobile experience: a convenient marriage of mobile and in-store offerings to drive sales, ramp up awareness of special items and help time-strapped consumers with features such as in-app shopping lists.

Target’s in-app maps are powered by Point Inside.

The brand also focuses on exclusives that differentiate it from other retailers, a move which worked favorably when music artist Taylor Swift released a special edition of her latest album 1989 at Target, culminating in record sales.

The content in the app is not a regurgitation of the weekly circular that consumers can find online or in-store; rather, it offers products and materials designed to inspire future purchases and drive trips to bricks-and-mortar locations. Customers that engage with Target on mobile will make four times as many trips to the stores each year.

App users also typically purchase more items than those that do not, thanks to its new shopping list feature. It also is programmed to ask users if they need help locating an item, showing the product’s shelf location in-store once customers have inputted information.

“Mobile experience needs to make commerce as easily as possible,” Mr. Ghani said. “We call it bricks-and-mobile, and we’re really excited to see how far we can take it.

“We’re delivering on demand shopping that blurs stores and mobile.”

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